Campaign participants say the nation needs a renewed focus on neuroscience, especially now, when the tools and technologies have made huge leaps but effective treatments for many psychiatric and other disorders are still elusive. Federal funding for research has not kept up with the need, and pharmaceutical companies are moving away from neuroscience, said Jerrold Rosenbaum, chief of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Susan G. Amara, chair of neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and president of the 41,000-member Society for Neuroscience, said many researchers are feeling stressed and demoralized about having insufficient money to fully explore questions about the brain. Kennedy’s passion and understanding of the issues will help bring scientists, government and the public on board, she said.
“He has this ability to make things much more personal and to really relate what it is and why it’s important to do these kinds of things,” she said.
Steven Hyman, the Harvard University’s provost and a neurobiologist who oversaw the development of the 10-year plan, said Kennedy has galvanized the scientific community.
The people affected are also taking notice. Joseph Nadeau, an Air Force veteran of the Korean War and commander of a Woonsocket VFW group, called Kennedy’s work an inspiration for people like him who work with veterans.
“He’s a hero to the families who receive these afflicted, traumatized individuals,” Nadeau said.
Kennedy acknowledges it may be impossible to try to change things as much as he’d like to, but says he’s heartened that everyone he asks to be involved has signed on.
“There’s no Republican or Democrat in terms of the urgency of the brain,” he said. “This investment in neuroscience will pay more dividends to our families and our countrymen than anything else we can make.”
Michelle R. Smith can be reached at http://twitter.com/MRSmithAP.
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