Obama's BRAIN:
A view of science policy from inside the White House

Philip Rubin

2354th Meeting Abstract
Friday, November 20, 2015 at 8:00 PM

About the Lecture:


On April 2, 2013, at a White House event, President Barack Obama unveiled a bold new research initiative designed to revolutionize our understanding of the human mind and uncover new ways to treat, prevent, and cure brain disorders like Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury. The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative is one of the Administration’s Grand Challengesambitious but achievable goals that require advances in science and technology. It is built on strong public-private partnerships and convergent science, including collaborative work in neuroscience, agriculture, biology, chemistry, cognitive science, computer science, education, engineering, ethics, materials science, medicine, physics, psychology, and other areas.

The BRAIN Initiative is a focused activity within a larger White House Neuroscience Initiative, which spans neuroscience and mental health-related activities directed by the White House, or supported by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). It includes the activities of the NSTC Interagency Working Group on Neuroscience, The BRAIN Initiative, the National Alzheimer’s Project, and other programs. Its goals are being achieved through strategic opportunities, working across over 20 agencies and promoting collaboration between the government and the private sector. The initiative provides a broad and comprehensive approach to basic and applied neuroscience and behavior, and spans many areas, including neurodegenerative disease, brain injury, mental health, aging, emerging technology, and aspects of food and nutrition.

This lecture will discuss precursors and catalysts to The BRAIN Initiative along with an update on the rapid growth of the initiative and possible future developments. It will also provide a glimpse of the role of OSTP in helping to coordinate such efforts related to federal science policy.

About the Speaker:

Dr. W. John Kress

Philip Rubin is a cognitive scientist, technologist, and science administrator who has long been involved in science advocacy, education, funding, and policy. He carries out highly interdisciplinary research that combines computational, engineering, linguistic, physiological, and psychological approaches to studying embodied cognition, particularly the biological bases of speech and language. He is particularly well known for his work on computational modeling of the physiology and acoustics of speech production, speech perception, sine wave synthesis, signal processing, perceptual organization, and theoretical approaches to and modeling of complex temporal events.

Philip is Senior Advisor to the President and CEO Emeritus at Haskins Laboratories, a research institute affiliated with Yale University and the University of Connecticut focused primarily on the scientific study of speech, language, and reading. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Surgery, Otolaryngology, at the Yale University School of Medicine, a Research Affiliate in the Department of Psychology at Yale, and a Fellow at Yale’s Trumbull College.

He recently retired from his position as Principal Assistant Director for Science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the Executive Office of the President of the United States. While there he served as Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences and led the White House neuroscience initiative. He also served concurrently as Senior Advisor in the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences directorate at the National Science Foundation. He is the former Co-Chair of the National Science and Technology Council Committee on Science, served as the Director of the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences at the National Science Foundation, and Chair of the National Academies Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences.

He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Acoustical Society of America, the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, the Linguistic Society of America. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE, a member of the Philosophical Society of Washington, and an elected member of the National Academy of Public Administration.

Among other awards and honors, Phillip is the recipient of the American Psychological Association's Meritorious Research Service Commendation.

He received a BA from Brandeis University in Psychology and Linguistics and an MA and PhD from the University of Connecticut in experimental psychology.

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