This Is Your Brain: on Paul Allen

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Scientists can study your brain and to learn how to cure diseases. We have the technology, but not enough scientists. So where does a local brain research center look for cash? If you're lucky enough to be The Allen Institute, then you just go back to your founder, local billionaire Paul 'I'm giving away money like it's candy" Allen of course.

Today the ex-Microsoft money man-of-the-hour announced he is giving $300 million to The Allen Institute, the Fremont-based brain science institute he started up nine years ago. This on top of the $200 million he initially gave in seed money means Allen will have donated half a billion dollars to find out what's cookin' your noodle.

The investment allows the institute to hire 350 people over four years who will analyze how information gets into your head, how memory works, and what's really happening when your brain throws ideas together. This donation will effectively double the size of the current staff, so hooray for unemployed Seattle neuroscientists!

Last year the Allen Institute created a complete gene map of the human brain and shared it with the world to help people better understand Autism, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's. Their long-term goal is to create "brain observatories" to continually study neural behavior.

Neurodegenerative disease research is personal investment for Allen, whose mother has Alzheimer's. He told the Wall-Street Journal: "Our dream is to uncover the essence of what makes us human. There is really no greater challenge with a potentially more huge impact than understanding how brains work."

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