News Releases

Senator Murray Applauds Revolutionary New Tool to Advance Brain Research

Sep 26 2006

Web-based "Allen Brain Atlas" Will Support Brain Research Around the World

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D–WA) today spoke at the unveiling of the Allen Brain Atlas, an innovative new tool to advance brain research. The Atlas, supported by philanthropist Paul Allen, is an online database of brain images that scientists and researchers will use to understand brain disorders and ultimately save and improve lives. The database will be available for all researchers at no cost. It was unveiled today at a Capital Hill press conference, hosted by Sen. Murray and Sen. Ted Stevens (R–AK).



"The Atlas Project represents a giant leap forward," Murray said. "By providing a comprehensive map that links all of the major structures of the brain with genetic data, the Atlas will have a profound affect on the understanding of neurological diseases from Alzheimer's, to Autism, to Epilepsy, to Parkinson's."



Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul Allen launched the project with a $100 million donation. Using this seed money, a distinguished group of researchers compiled over 600 terabytes of data, including 85 million images of the mouse brain, which will help scientists understand the human brain. Researchers are using this resource to fight the numerous brain-related ailments that affect over 50 million Americans.



Senator Murray has long been an advocate for increased medical and scientific research. She worked to double funding for the National Institutes of Health and is a strong advocate for stem cell research. Senator Murray hopes that this research can aid scientists and medical professionals in their efforts to treat people suffering from a brain disorder.



The "Brain Atlas" is available at: http://www.brain-map.org



Senator Murray's remarks follow:



I am glad that I can join all of you in thanking one of Washington State's most prized citizens for supporting such a great effort. We in the Pacific Northwest are very familiar with Paul Allen's outstanding contributions to his local and regional community, and it is so great to watch as his philanthropy grows in both scope and generosity.



Today we celebrate Paul's momentous decision to provide $100 million to fund a free and publicly available data source that could be the key to unlocking many current neurological mysteries. The Atlas Project represents a giant leap forward. By providing a comprehensive map that links all of the major structures of the brain with genetic data, the Atlas will have a profound affect on the understanding of neurological diseases from Alzheimer's, to Autism, to Epilepsy, to Parkinson's.



But the potential for discovery will not only be limited to those major neurological disorders. The Atlas will be the catalyst for the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of so much more. As we have seen so many times before, one medical breakthrough ultimately leads to another. As we learn more about the human brain, I hope that our understanding of brain trauma and brain injuries will increase.



As someone who works everyday for funding to help our nation's veterans with the difficult consequences that come with putting themselves in harms way, it is my hope that some day our expanded understanding of the layout of the brain will benefit them as well. Soon, because of breakthroughs like this, our men and women in uniform will have the treatment they need for traumatic brain injuries they sustain in combat.



I look forward to exploring ways to help build on the discoveries of the Atlas project through private and public sector cooperation. Thank you, Paul, for your compassion, vision and commitment to leave the world a better place.