When computers capable of working at the exascale level (1018 floating-point calculations per second) come on line, they will be brought to bear on figuring out how another, quite different computer, the human brain, works. With that goal in mind, Energy secretary Ernest Moniz and National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins are exploring how to bring the Department of Energy, which houses the nation’s leading supercomputers, into the presidential initiative known as BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies; see Physics Today, December 2013, page 20).

The brain is just one area of biomedical research that could benefit from the computational and physical sciences expertise at DOE and its national laboratories. In December Moniz asked his Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) to look for ways to increase DOE’s contribution to biomedical sciences. A SEAB task force, cochaired by former NIH and National Cancer Institute (NCI)...

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