BY SHARON HILLSTROM

Imagine the Manatee-Sarasota community leading the world in understanding and enhancing brain health now and for future generations.

That’s the exciting vision behind the Brain Health Initiative at Lakewood Ranch. This initiative, added to established community assets like CORE at Lakewood Ranch and the Roskamp Institute, will be a catalyst to attract additional life sciences investment, expertise and innovation to our region. The caliber and credibility of the organizations involved in this visionary project further validate our region’s position as a prime location for life sciences businesses.

The Brain Health Initiative couldn’t align better with the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. (EDC) vision for life sciences outlined in our strategic plan. We have long viewed the CORE project as a potential hub for life sciences business and innovation. Our regional discussions with the Roskamp Institute and other businesses in the life sciences field have indicated their strong desire to collaborate to foster the sector’s growth here.

Through the Brain Health Initiative, our region will become a living laboratory developing innovations to improve brain health of people throughout the world.

The initiative includes the most extensive, long-term brain health study ever conducted and the Brain Health Innovation Lab, a first-of-its-kind hub for breakthrough science in brain health innovation. The initiative seeks to develop interventions and validate and test the feasibility of innovations to enhance brain health, as well as optimize performance across the lifespan.

The brain health study will be led by the Academy for Brain Health and Performance, and Massachusetts General Hospital, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital (Mass General).  The multi-generational, community-based research will follow Lakewood Ranch residents for decades to identify factors associated with brain health and performance across the lifespan.

The research will be used by a global team of researchers, neuro-technologists, engineers, innovators, entrepreneurs and investors to discern, develop, and implement interventions aimed at optimizing brain health and performance. This collaboration will be based in the planned Brain Health Innovation Lab at CORE at Lakewood Ranch. The outcomes developed by the initiative are intended to be replicated and scaled globally.

The potential global health impact of this initiative is beyond measure, as is the economic impact of being the epicenter for understanding and commercializing interventions and therapies related to brain health. The work also will draw talent from around the world, building a critical mass of life sciences workforce to attract other related businesses.

The Brain Health Initiative at Lakewood Ranch is a bold vision, and one that needs funding. With generous contributions from Schroder-Manatee Ranch and members of the community, the initiative is one-third of the way toward the goal of raising $1.6 million by May 31.

The Bradenton Area EDC stands ready to support this endeavor through our network of partners in the region who share our mission of diversifying the local economy by attracting and retaining high-wage jobs for area residents, and connecting established businesses to the resources they need to succeed.

The EDC’s strategic plan is all about imagining what our region can become, and driving toward that vision. With the Brain Health Initiative, we have the opportunity to make a difference globally and to drive our region to become a leader in brain health science and applications to improve people’s lives. To learn more about the initiative, visit brainhealthylwr.com.