New Brain Initiative Could Have Impact in Classrooms

By: Carly Stephenson Email
By: Carly Stephenson Email

HARRISONBURG, Va. --The new brain initiative that President Barack Obama announced this week could change the future of research on Alzeimer's Disease and memory.

It could also have a large impact on learning in the classroom.

Science Teacher Myron Blosser with Eastern Mennonite School said that hopefully this will have a similar impact to the Human Genome Project.

Blosser said brain health is an issue that is lagging behind..but now, researchers will look at how to maintain and fix the brain.

Students in Blosser's Biotechnology class are completing a lab that isolates their DNA.

"So in this lab we're using our own dna to find out if we have a gene that allows us to taste this bitter chemical in a lot of our common foods and vegetables," said Carolina May, a junior.

The garggling, testing and hands-on work in a classroom all started with a national project.

"I use the human genome project information a lot, in class we do a lot of DNA work," Blosser said.

Blosser hopes that in a similar way, the new brain proposal will trickle down into the classroom.

"We will start doing activities in class that will be neuron research. We'll start looking at synaptic clefts, we'll start looking at neurotransmitters," Blosser said.

It could also help him look at how students learn and remember.

Blosser is friends with one of the men who is leading the project, the National Institute of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins.

"It aims to bring together nanoscience, engineering and neurology to make sense of how the brain works. The circuits in the brain allow us to do all the complicated things that we currently don't understand," Dr. Collins said.

Based on that speech, Blosser is already looking ahead.

"To see his excitment, and the twinkle in his eye when he was talking about this. This simply tells me that he knows what's coming," Blosser said.

Money for the project won't just be from the government.

According to the White House's website, private foundations and institutions will fund it too.

For example, the Allen Institute for Brain Science plans to spend 60 million dollars a year to support projects.

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