New AI Initiative Launched to Accelerate the Fight Against Neurodegenerative Diseases

New AI Initiative Launched to Accelerate the Fight Against Neurodegenerative Diseases

Leading nonprofits come together to define how AI can help researchers to grapple with the daunting complexities of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and related disorders

The 10,000 Brains Project, an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has been launched to promote the ethical use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the fight against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases. The organization’s mission is to provide the leadership, expertise, and financial support needed to ensure that researchers can rapidly adopt this powerful new technology in the search for better diagnostics and treatments for patients in need.

Neurodegeneration is perhaps the most complex challenge in healthcare and the development of treatments has proven resistant to traditional research methods. The rapid advancement of AI offers an opportunity to fundamentally transform research just as the development of the microscope in the 17th century led to an explosion of scientific discovery. Neurodegeneration affects more than 50 million people worldwide, costs families and taxpayers billions of dollars in caregiving expenses, and is increasing in prevalence as populations age.

Patrick Brannelly, a seasoned executive in nonprofit and entrepreneurial ventures, has been named the founding CEO of The 10,000 Brains Project. Mr. Brannelly has nearly 20 years of experience building groundbreaking neuroscience initiatives. Most recently, he was a member of the Health & Life Sciences team at Gates Ventures, where he served as the Director of Partnerships & Business Development for the Alzheimer’s Disease Data Initiative. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and an MSc in Applied Neuroscience from King’s College London.

Mr. Brannelly said, “We hope to serve as a resource to others in the field as we jointly explore and embrace the unique capabilities of AI. We welcome inquiries from philanthropists, researchers, and other stakeholders who share our vision of AI-enabled precision medicine for all types of neurodegenerative disease.

As a first step toward its mission, The 10,000 Brains Project has commissioned the development of a roadmap to guide the rapid adoption of AI within neurodegeneration research. The resulting insights, including recommended approaches for addressing the key gaps and opportunities, will be shared with researchers worldwide beginning this year. The roadmap will also inform the creation of the collaborative research networks needed to rapidly move the field forward.

The 10,000 Brains roadmapping effort is being led by the Milken Institute’s Science Philanthropy Accelerator for Research Collaboration (SPARC). Additional financial support for the effort has been provided by the Robertson Foundation and Rainwater Charitable Foundation, who both serve on the project’s steering committee.

Dr. Cara Altimus, Managing Director of Milken Institute Philanthropy, said, “AI offers the computational power needed to look across neurodegenerative diseases and find common threads that can lead to better diagnostics and treatments. We are excited to build a research roadmap that will show how private funding can accelerate this important area of medical research.” Dr. Amy Rommel, Scientific Program Director at the Rainwater Charitable Foundation, added, “The roadmap is an important first step in building the multiyear AI collaborations needed to address all forms of neurodegeneration, including the rarer forms that are too often overlooked.

The “10,000 Brains” name is a reflection of two important principles. First, solving neurodegenerative diseases will require researchers to recognize the full diversity of human brains; every person’s brain is different, and their disorders can take a variety of different paths. Second, no single expert will be able to untangle the mysteries of neurodegeneration alone; it will require large teams of talented researchers to work together.

Leave a Reply