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US photonics industry leaders commit upwards of $30M to support of the President’s BRAIN Initiative

National Photonics Initiative leaders launch industry neuroscience group

30 September 2014

National Photonics InitiativeWASHINGTON, DC, USA -- Leaders of the National Photonics Initiative (NPI), an alliance of top scientific societies uniting industry and academia to raise awareness of photonics, launched its Photonics Industry Neuroscience Group alongside officials from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in conjunction with today's White House BRAIN Initiative conference. Members of the NPI industry group are committing to invest upwards of $30 million in existing and future research and development spending over the next three years to advance optics and photonics technology in support of the White House Brain Research through Advancing Imaging Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.

"The NPI industry group is truly the first of its kind -- a multidisciplinary industry consortium focused on developing new optics and photonics technologies to help achieve the President's goals for the BRAIN Initiative," said NPI Steering Committee Chairman Tom Baer. "Launching our industry consortium alongside OSTP signifies our joint commitment to solving the brain's greatest mysteries through optics and photonics innovation."

The NPI industry group is comprised of top US industry leaders in optics and photonics including Accumetra, LLC, Agilent, Applied Scientific Instrumentation, Coherent, Hamamatsu, Inscopix, Inc., Spectra-Physics and THORLABS. Under the NPI, the industry consortium will work closely with national BRAIN Initiative leadership and neuroscience research communities to help achieve the administration's objective to revolutionize our understanding of the human brain. The consortium will address neurosciences challenges such as:

  • Developing the imaging optics, laser sources and automated scanning technology and high-resolution cameras to provide up to a 100-fold increase in the capability of imaging groups of thousands of active neurons;
  • Developing miniature, affordable, portable and implantable microscopes compatible with high-throughput facilities for therapeutic screening based on neural activity signatures;
  • Using large-scale, high-throughput protein-engineering technology to develop a new generation of fluorescent indicators of neural activity, with tenfold improvements in efficiency and temporal response; and
  • Developing automated software for detailed mapping of the human brain, architecture, neuronal wiring geometry and dynamic activity from three-dimensional data sets generated by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) and microscopic imaging.

Members of the NPI Photonics Industry Neuroscience Group were invited to today's White House BRAIN Initiative conference that was also attended by leadership from OSTP, the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Launched in April 2013, the BRAIN Initiative was created in response to President Obama's call for innovative technologies that can create a dynamic understanding of brain function, and ultimately help researchers find new ways to treat, cure and even prevent brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Today's conference highlighted new commitments and investments by the Federal government, private sector companies, universities and non-profit organizations to support the goals of the BRAIN Initiative.

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ABOUT THE NPI: The National Photonics Initiative (NPI) is a collaborative alliance among industry, academia and government to raise awareness of photonics and the impact of photonics on our everyday lives; increase cooperation and coordination among US industry, government and academia to advance photonics-driven fields; and drive US funding and investment in areas of photonics critical to maintaining US economic competitiveness and national security. The initiative is being led by top scientific societies including the American Physical Society (APS), the IEEE Photonics Society, the Laser Institute of America (LIA), The Optical Society (OSA) and SPIE, the International Society for Optics and Photonics. For more information visit www.lightourfuture.org.