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Health, Science & Tech

CMU BrainHub Tackles the Still Murky Field of Brain Science

With all of the medical and scientific advances of recent decades, there is still a bit of a mystery within the human body — the brain. To try and better understand it, Carnegie Mellon University has launched the BrainHub initiative.

“It’s actually, I would say, almost embarrassing how little we know, and even more than that, how little we can do, to try and deal with brain disorders of a variety of kinds,” said CMU Interim Provost Nathan Urban.

The hope is that more can be learned about disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

BrainHub will bring together not just medical professionals, but also computer science, the humanities, business, public policy and engineering to conduct research on the brain. Urban said engineers have come up with ways to monitor stressors on bridges, or particles in the air, so BrainHub would like to harness their knowledge.

“Our ability to both improve our measurements, our window into the brain, and also to improve our assessment or measurement of behavior will depend on building devices, building sensors, building new kinds of systems for measuring and monitoring,” said Urban.

BrainHub will work not only within the CMU community, but also with partners in the region, state, country and beyond.

“Looking across the globe to do this is exciting for us because it gives us access to some remarkable resources in terms of individuals and kinds of data that are not necessarily things we can do ourselves here in Pittsburgh, “said Urban.

Global partners include the University of Warwick, Sun Yat-sen University, Oxford University and the Indian Institute of Science. BrainHub is part of the federal BRAIN Initiative and was giving a boost last week with a $5 million gift from Pittsburgh business leader Henry L. Hillman.