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April 24, 2013

Patrick Kennedy advocates for a "moon-shot" for the brain

University of Michigan Depression Center National Advisory Board member and former Congressman, Patrick J. Kennedy, visited the Depression Center on April 18. The Congressman, who is also the co-founder of ONE MIND for Research™, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to curing the diseases of the brain and eliminating the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness and brain injuries, participated in a roundtable meeting with twenty-five Depression Center faculty and staff members. Congressman Kennedy spoke passionately of his new mission – a "moonshot for the brain," modeled after the historic moonshot explorations of outer space launched in 1961 by his late uncle, President John F. Kennedy. Just as President Kennedy challenged Americans 50 years ago this May to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, Patrick Kennedy is now urging scientists studying the brain to pursue "inner space" as the new frontier. He is meeting with researchers around the country to advocate for explorations into brain circuitry and impaired genes and to develop research that can be translated into therapies and cures for all brain disorders, including clinical depressions, bipolar disorders, and the other conditions being studied and treated at the University of Michigan. "We have become too disease-centric and siloed," said Kennedy, adding, "we need a single-minded approach to organizing research on the brain as a whole." He congratulated and praised the UM Depression Center for being a model of interdisciplinary collaboration, and for its years of leadership as the nation's first comprehensive center of excellence exemplifying the power of partnerships, including its partnership with One Mind for Research. Congressman Kennedy asked Depression Center faculty to join with him in helping to shape a conference that he and other members of the Kennedy family will host in October of this year to present a bold new agenda for large-scale, unprecedented scientific collaboration among neuroscientists. This is one of many "small steps" that Congressman Kennedy hopes will become yet another giant step for mankind.

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