What Should the Future of Brain Research Be?

Read Transcript

I think one of the things I'd love to see come out of brain research in general, is a better understanding for why the brain is vulnerable. It's not just Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease, there were genetic forms of these diseases. They are rare, but they run in families, and they're strictly genetically inherited.

Now it turns out the genes that are mutated in those forms of the disease are mostly found in every cell of the body. Yet, when they're mutated, the only cells that are affected are a subset of cells in the central nervous system. To a biochemist that makes very little sense. We don't understand what it is about nerve cells, and the brain, and the spinal cord, and places where they're affected in these diseases that makes them uniquely vulnerable to all kind of things. If we could understand that, we'd be a long way closer to figuring out how to prevent as well as treat some of these disorders. I would love to understand what it is about the brain and its cells contained in the brain that makes it so susceptible to things that other parts of the body seems to be able to mostly cope with just fine.