With the next presidential election around the corner, its time to consider what implications this will have for the future of brain sciences and biomedicine. Throughout his two terms, President Obama has been incredibly supportive of funding scientific research. Notably, he launched the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative in April 2013, with a $100 million commitment and partnership with the NIH, NSF, and DARPA. Since its release, this program has grown to garner over $300 million in public and private investments and has recently grown to partner with five federal agencies, with the addition of the FDA and IARPA. This initiative has been invaluable in helping understand the mind and make breakthroughs in treatment, prevention, and cures for a range of brain disorders. It is with great hope that our next elected official will continue this initiative and further develop programs to increase scientific research.
Hillary Clinton has been very vocal about her stance on scientific funding, with a particular emphasis on a research initiative to find a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease by 2025. In fact, she has proposed $2 billion to accomplish this goal. In addition, she has expressed the need for an increase in funding for scientific research at both the NIH and NSF. Beyond this, she plans to increase treatment and support for people with autism, reduce substance abuse, and continue the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Although Hillary maintains a clear platform, Donald Trump’s is much less concrete. When asked about Alzheimer’s Disease, he made it clear that it was a top priority, but did not provide details about the future of scientific funding. Additionally, Trump has been vocal about the space program, with an emphasis in shifting to private sector led space flight. It appears as though he has an interest in funding to support science, yet Trump’s platform has made it clear that funding should first go to solving current social problems, with the excess being used to support science. In fact, he has even mentioned the possibility of cutting the EPA to allocate funds differently.
Funding scientific research does seem to be of high priority to both candidates. However, Hillary Clinton has provided us with a vision of what the future of scientific funding and advancement might look like, while Donald Trump has remained relatively vague. Neither candidate has made any commitment to continuing President Obama’s BRAIN initiative. Looking forward, the future of brain sciences remains hopeful, especially in regards to Alzheimer’s research. Hopefully, the platform that President Obama created will be built upon and expanded.