- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Pentagon agency tasked with creating with breakthrough technologies for national security has awarded contracts to two universities to create memory chips for service members and veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries or disease.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will pay a team from UCLA up to $15 million over four years, and a team from the University of Pennsylvania up to $22.5 million for the same time period to lead the Pentagon’s Restoring Active Memory (RAM) program. A $2.5 million contract with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has been made for a team to develop an implantable neural device for the UCLA-led effort.

“The start of the Restoring Active Memory program marks an exciting opportunity to reveal many new aspects of human memory and learn about the brain in ways that were never before possible,” Justin Sanchez, DARPA program manager, said on the agency’s website. “Anyone who has witnessed the effects of memory loss in another person knows its toll and how few options are available to treat it. We’re going to apply the knowledge and understanding gained in RAM to develop new options for treatment through technology.”

More than 270,000 military personnel have been treated for traumatic brain injuries since 2000 and more than 1.7 million U.S. civilians are affected by the injury each year, the agency reported.

“We owe it to our service members to accelerate research that can minimize the long-term impacts of their injuries,” Mr. Sanchez added. “Despite increasingly aggressive prevention efforts, traumatic brain injury remains a serious problem in military and civilian sectors. Through the Restoring Active Memory program, DARPA aims to better understand the underlying neurological basis of memory loss and speed the development of innovative therapies.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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