Congressman’s bill to further US-Israel cooperation on brain tech

Global Neuroscience Partnership Act to support start-ups, universities seeking cures for neurological diseases

US Congressman Chaka Fattah (left) meets with former Israeli president Shimon Peres (center) and Braintech chairman Rafi Gidron on March 11, 2015 (Courtesy)
US Congressman Chaka Fattah (left) meets with former Israeli president Shimon Peres (center) and Braintech chairman Rafi Gidron on March 11, 2015 (Courtesy)

To further cement US-Israel cooperation on developing solutions for devastating neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s Down syndrome and autism, US Congressmen Chaka Fattah on Thursday announced the United States-Israel Global Neuroscience Partnership Act.

The new legislation, said Fattah, will further enhance the already substantial cooperation between Israeli and American researchers on this issue.

“For years the United States and Israel have worked to promote and support joint research efforts and scientific advancement,” said Fattah. “This bill will strengthen that relationship by funding new and existing research and technology development with the potential to accelerate our understanding of the human brain.”

Solving brain diseases has long been a special interest of the eleven-term Pennsylvanian congressman, and according to Fattah, Israel is one of the best places in the world to find those solutions.

“The US and Europe may have more breakthroughs in neuroscience, but you have to put that in perspective,” he said at a panel discussion at Braintech 2015, held in Tel Aviv in March. “The US has 350 million people, and there are 28 countries in the European Union. Israel is third behind these countries in its neuroscience developments, but per capita it is way ahead of everyone.”

Fattah has been to Israel twice to attend the Braintech conferences, where the latest developments in technology from Israel and around the world to fight brain diseases goes on display.

“To gather together the minds that exist and see how we can tackle these ailments together, that is the work that is in front of us,” he said during a discussion on brain science initiatives.

“I’m convinced that the pulse of this international consensus starts here in Israel. We are here to seize the neuroscience moment.”

Fattah is the lead Democrat on the House of Representative’s Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee, responsible for overseeing federal expenditures in the science agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

He is also chairman of the Fattah Neuroscience Initiative, which brings the disparate research being done in neuroscience among federal agencies under a single umbrella. Earlier this year, Fattah successfully increased neuroscience funding for the National Science Foundation to a record $146.9 million in Congress’s Appropriations Bill for 2016.

The Global Neuroscience Partnership Act will direct the US’s National Institutes of Health (NIH), in conjunction with Israel’s Ministry of Science and the Office of the Chief Scientist, to award grants that support neuroscience-related research and technology development. Eligible entities will include any combination of US or Israeli universities, researchers, or private companies invested in neuroscience projects. The legislation will also establish a US-Israel Neuroscience Advisory Committee under NIH.

The bill uses as its model the successful government-business partnerships developed under the Israel-US Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation and the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF), but with a greater focus on bringing similar success to brain science, Fattah’s office said.

“We know that in order to make significant neuroscience advancements we must work together with other nations who share our goal of finding cures and treatments to brain disease,” said Fattah.

“The US-Israel Global Neuroscience Partnership Act will unleash a new era of cooperation and collaboration between two great nations already leading in neuroscience and neurotechnology.”

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