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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Mapping the Brain – Building on Lessons Learned from Mapping the Human Genome

It’s good to see the US government building on lessons learned from past investments in big science. The latest target apparently is mapping the brain, with the Obama Administration preparing to back a multi-year plan with costs around $ 3 billion. Goals include learning more about the brain-related diseases (e.g. Alzheimers, Parkinsons, and autism) to learning more about how minds work, and where controllers are found. No doubt the results also will accelerate the already cutting-edge therapies implemented for disabled persons at the world class Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. In fall 2012, RIC unveiled the world’s first neural controlled bionic leg. Perhaps more understanding and help for soldiers suffering from concussions and other brain traumas, including post-traumatic stress syndrome.

It’s hard to imagine a better investment than fundamental science. For recent precedent, consider the Human Genome Project. A true game-changer for science and humanity, the HGP also proved a marvelous financial investment, as previously discussed in this post about Batelle’s review of the ROI. Indeed, the President cited the HGP and the Battele Study in his State of the Union speech. The eye-popping ROI numbers for the HGP: $ 796 billion and 310,000 jobs in return for a $3.8 billion investment.

But what’s in it for tort lawyers? The concussion litigation comes to mind. Perhaps new arguments about the design suitability of protective helmets for any sport or activity. Arguments about new bionic limbs for persons injured when buildings collapse or planes fall from the sky.

And other lawyers will benefit too. Think about criminal defense lawyers hiring brain experts to explain/rationalize client conduct.

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