The NIH BRAIN Initiative Neuroethics Roadmap, released by the Neuroethics Subgroup of the ACD BRAIN 2.0 Working Group, served as the topic of this neuroethics seminar led by Winston Chiong. After our discussion, which largely focused on Chapter 6, “Integrating Neuroethics and Neuroscience,” participants of this session composed a public comment in response to the Roadmap.
The Roadmap calls for the expansion of the neuroethics arm of BRAIN 2.0, with specific recommendations including a compulsory neuroethics section on all BRAIN Initiative grant applications and a notable budget increase from 1.8% to 5% of the BRAIN Initiative’s total annual funds. Our discussion was informed by accomplishments and critiques of the Human Genome Project’s Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) program, which in some ways served as a model for the Neuroethics Roadmap. We discussed the need to foster a dedicated neuroethics workforce that includes neuroscientists with firsthand knowledge of medical applications, as well as junior researchers with the potential to commit to long-term neuroethics pursuits. Also of great concern was myopia within neuroethics research questions and the squandering of scientific creativity through funding restrictions, which could create intellectual blind spots and leave neuroethicists unprepared to address other important issues as they arise. We shared our thoughts on effective use of BRAIN neuroethics funds as well as a need for additional funding sources beyond NIH to support the investigation of neuroethics research questions unrelated to health, such as the legal and social implications of neuroscientific advances. Finally, we discussed the potential for neuroethics Centers of Excellence to perform community engagement and enhance public attitudes toward neuroscience.