Penn to lead project to restore memory loss

Penn will receive up to $22.5 million in funding

· July 8, 2014, 10:34 pm   ·  Updated July 10, 2014, 9:57 am

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Penn and the University of California, Los Angeles are the two schools initially chosen by the federal government to develop and test implantable devices to facilitate memory recovery after brain injury.

Penn will receive up to $22.5 million in funding over four years for its role in the research.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced the launch of the Restoring Active Memory (RAM) program yesterday.

RAM is only one of DARPA’s programs supporting President Obama’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies — or the BRAIN Initiative. It is “part of a new Presidential focus aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain,” according to the National Institutes of Health. The BRAIN Initiative seeks to create a “revolutionary new dynamic picture of the brain” that will “fill major gaps in our current knowledge” of the human mind.

The RAM program ultimately seeks to create implantable neuroprosthetics — artificial extensions to the body that restore or supplement function of the nervous system — that will restore the memory of those humans suffering from brain injury or disease.

Teams at Penn and the University of California, Los Angeles will receive a total of $37.5 million to create these memory-restoring devices.

U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA2), supported the launch of the BRAIN Initiative and commended yesterday’s announcement.

The two leading teams are coalitions of universities, government research institutions and private companies.

Psychology professor and Director of Penn’s Computational Memory Lab Michael Kahana will lead the Penn team.

In an official press release, Fattah expressed his enthusiasm for the “extraordinary proposals” of the Penn and UCLA teams.

“I look forward to watching this research progress, while continuing to champion funding that accelerates the development of treatments and technology for patients — including our nation’s servicemembers and veterans — suffering from brain disease and disorders,” Fattah said.

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