The healthcare burdens of aging populations have traditionally been a Western problem, but rising life expectancy in emerging markets has caused the pressures to spread around the world. In India, the co-founder of IT services firm Infosys has responded by funding a brain and computing research center to improve the health of the 100 million citizens aged over 60.
|Kris Gopalakrishnan--Courtesy of World Economic Forum, Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0|
Kris Gopalakrishnan, co-founder and vice chairman of Infosys, will donate Rs225 crore ($36 million) over the next decade to establish and develop the Centre for Brain Research in Bangalore. Using the funds--which Gopalakrishnan is donating through his charity--the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) will work to understand neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. As part of this push, the center will tap into the field in which Gopalakrishnan made his money.
"The centre will look at links between brains and computers and leverage existing understanding of brain functioning to create better models of computing," IISc neuroscience chief Vijayalakshmi Ravindranath told The Times of India. Operating at the nexus between brain biology and computing puts the center in similar territory to U.S. President Barack Obama's BRAIN Initiative, which aims to tap technology to understand the workings of individual cells and neural circuits.
Neurophysiologist and Nobel Laureate professor Torsten Wiesel will head up an international advisory panel tasked with guiding research at the Indian brain center. The panel will help set up the site and set research goals for the 50 to 75 people who will work at the center once it is operational.