“The brain is one of our final frontiers for exploration, and it’s a very beautiful machine,” says Dr. Amy Bernard, director of structured science at the Allen Institute for Brain Science. In March 2012, Paul Allen committed an additional $300 million, bringing the total to $500 million, to further the institute’s research. Two flagship projects that map genes at work, the Human Brain and Mouse Brain atlases, are available online and free to the public. “The Allen Brain Atlas resources are like a Wikipedia of scientific information,” says Bernard. “Anyone can use our data, from a Nobel Laureate in California to a curious high school student in Uganda.” The institute’s website, brain-map.org, has been receiving about 50,000 visits a month. Since the atlases became available, Allen Institute research has contributed to studies related to possible treatments for obesity, seizure disorders, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, and autism. The increased funding will move the institute toward its goal of doubling its staff and expanding its research. “So much of what makes us human revolves around the brain,” says Bernard.
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