China to launch well-funded brain project to rival US, European ventures

By Qu Qiuyan Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/18 22:18:40

China plans to launch its own brain project  of this year with an investment equal to the US Brain Initiative, aiming to achieve better understanding of human brain function and promote development of medical treatment and artificial intelligence.

Both government investment and private capital might be involved with the project, China Business News reported on Monday, citing Mu-ming Poo, director of the Institute of Neuroscience at the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). Scheduled for launch at the end of 2017, the project will last 15 years targeting major scientific discovery and technological development by 2030, according to CAS website.

Details of the project are still not nailed down, but research and development will be accelerated once the specific plan comes out, Poo said.

The project has been listed in the nation's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) released in March 2016.

The project will focus on human brain function and disease research and development of brain-inspired intelligence, the Science and Technology Daily reported in August 2016.

"It will help better understand the root causes of diseases such as depression, Alzheimer's disease and autism from a neuroscience perspective," Li Weidong, an expert in depression disorder at the Bio-X Institute of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, told the Global Times on Monday.

A better understanding of the root causes of these diseases will help locate a cure for patients, most of whom are treated psychologically or with normal medicine, Li explained.

There are more than 1 billion patients suffering from brain diseases, creating an economic burden of about $1 trillion a year, according to the China Business News report.

Most brain diseases so far have no proper cure, the newspaper noted.

Launched in 2013, the US Brain Initiative is a 10-year plan with an expected investment of about $6 billion. Meanwhile, the European Union Human Brain Project will last for 10 years with an investment of about $1.2 billion, the report said.



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