Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

NIH Director Gets Into Stephen Colbert's Brain

ARCHIVES
Comedy Central

Excellence in Government contributor and director of the National Institutes of Health Dr. Francis Collins is a multiple-appearance guest on The Colbert Report and was on with the comedian last night to promote Barack Obama’s BRAIN initiative. Deflecting Colbert’s jokes about Obama’s need to bore into citizens’ minds, Collins explained the need to learn more about brain. Collins posited that we know the physical structure of the brain, but we don’t know nearly enough about how it works. Using a user-friendly analogy, Collins pulled out his iPhone and compared it to the brain to explain the research’s purpose.


“You can pop it open, you can look at the circuits,” Collins told Colbert. “But you’d never really understand how it remembers things, how it does calculations. Kind of where we are with the brain.”


He said the $100 million is to help the millions of Americans suffering from brain disease, including schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s and epilepsy. While neuroscientists such as himself don’t have extensive answers to those problems, Collins said “we hope someday to get them.”


The highlight of the interview was Collins using a multicolored cap to measure brainwaves from Colbert. The “brainwave hat,” as Colbert called it before putting it on and mugging, fed information into Collins’ laptop that was projected onto the set’s screen while the host commented on its resemblance to geological survey graphs of earthquakes. Colbert likened it to “an eearhtquake in my mind.” Collins quickly corrected Colbert.


“In some occasions, we do have earthquakes,” Collins said. “But, those would be called ‘seizures’ and we don’t want you to have one of those.”

Collins and Colbert even joked about the sequester’s impact on NIH equipment, as the cable connecting the equipment to Collins’ computer was literally held together by duct tape...

Watch the full interview below:

Click here to learn more from Dr. Collins about the BRAIN Initiative.

Prior to joining Government Executive’s staff, Ross Gianfortune worked at The Washington Post, The Gazette Newspapers, WXRT Radio and The Columbia Missourian. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from University of Missouri and a master's in communications from the American University.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.