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Brain goals for the 1990s.

Some sociologists have depicted scientists as a tribe with their own cultural practices, myths, and rituals. And members of this particular tribe aren't in the habit of proclaiming the specific mysteries of nature they intend to solve and then issuing a delivery date. But that's just what a group of distinguished neuroscientists did at an April 27 press briefing in Washington, D.C.

Backed by a neuroscience philanthropy, the Charles A. Dana Foundation, the researchers have identified "attainable objectives" that neuroscience can achieve by the end of the 1990s, which Congress has declared the Decade of the Brain. Calling itself the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, the 62-member group includes representatives of government and industry

Repeatedly citing the revolution in human genetics over the past decade, alliance members say neuroscience will identify genes linked to a suite of brain-related disorders. These include Alzheimer's disease, manic-depressive illness, and inherited forms of deafness and blindness.

Also, the alliance predicts, researchers will have gathered by decade's end the basic knowledge to develop new treatments for major afflictions, including brain and spinal cord injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, Parkinsons disease, manic-depressive illness, anxiety disorders, drug addiction, schizophrenia, chronic pain, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease).

Finally, the alliance promises significant progress in understanding the basic mechanisms of learning and memory,

The alliance counts among its members some of the most recognizable names in brain research. However, members of neuroscience's rank and file polled by the Dana Foundation expressed some doubt that all the objectives could actually be attained by the year 2000, according to the foundation.

Alliance member Guy M. McKhann stands behind his groups predictions. He emphasizes the members' efforts to remain realistic in spite of their optimism. "These goals weren't pulled out of the blue;' says McKhann, a neurologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. "These are things that we really think are going to happen."
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Title Annotation:Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives identifies research goals to attain by 2000
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:May 8, 1993
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