Seattle: Rain City = Brain City

The headline doesn’t refer to the fact that Seattle is full of brainy people (like me).  Rather, I am discovering that Seattle is a hotbed of brain research.  This research covers everything from how children learn to neurological pathologies such as Alzheimer’s or autism.  The more neurological research, the more the odds improve for a Parkinson’s cure.  And what great synergy to have all these brainy (pun intended) people in one city, exchanging ideas and research conclusions! 

Check out this link  for interviews with  two brain research leaders in Seattle,  done 2/28/13 by  Marcie Sillman, a reporter for the local NPR affiliate, KUOW.  The “news  peg” was President Obama’s State of the Union pledge to launch a 10-year committment to map the human brain. 

Dr. Christof Koch, Chief Scientific Officer for the Allen Institute for Brain Science.  Christof Koch-Allen InstituteIn 2003, former Microsoft mogul Paul Allen provided seed money to kick start research on the “Allen Human Brain Atlas”.  His commitment is up to a mind-boggling half-a-billion dollars now, which has funded an impressive roster of talent.  The institute’s main research objective is to characterize and catalogue human brain cells and brain circuitry in a comprehensive “Atlas”.  The precursor “Allen Mouse Brain Atlas” was completed in a mere three years (in 2006).

Dr. Patricia Kuhl, Co-Director at the UW Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences (“I-LABS”).  -LABS’s focus is understanding how children learn, and how the brain is (literally) shaped patricia-kuhl-UW ILABSfrom birth until school starts.  In 2010, I-LABS launched the Developing Mind Project, a multi-year research initiative intended to describe brain development in children.  I-LABS uses the MEG brain imaging device, a one-ton machine which can safely map mental activity of an infant only a few days old.  In 2010, University of Washington purchased one of the few MEG machines in the country and the only one in the world with measures for infants. (MEG stands for magnetoencephalography, a (very) high tech way to measure electromagnetic currents from brain activity. )

As for neurological research in Seattle specifically focused on Parkinson’s, research groups include:
Pacific Northwest Udall Center (PANUC) is one of 14 Udall centers across the country conducting Parkinson’s resear ch.   See my posting re the research trial I participated in.  University of Washington and the Veterans’ Hospital both participate in the research  at the center.  PANUC’s focus is on on cognitive impairment, genetic research, and — one of the Holy Grails of Parkinson’s research — finding biomarkers so the disease can be objectively diagnosed and measured.

LARGE-PD — See my previous posting about this consortium with a Seattle connection  conducting genetic research in South America.

About Laura Kennedy Gould

Author of "The Magic Trick -- Life with Parkinson's
This entry was posted in Parkinson's Research and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Seattle: Rain City = Brain City

  1. Laura, it was so nice to get to know you and Lucy! I find the blog interesting. I have always been interested brain development in children ( at least since a linguistic course at U of M on how children learn language.).

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