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FCW : February 2014
Since 1958, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has been at the forefront of innovative technolo- gies --- including modern-day staples such as the Internet, smartphones and search engines. A lot has changed in nearly 56 years, but DARPA s core mis- sion has not, said Director Arati Prab- hakar, who has an upbeat vision for the agency s future. "We live in a world lled with tech- nologies that trace their roots back to DARPA investments," Prabhakar said in an inter- view with FCW. "It s an old story but a good and impor- tant story about investments we make because of national security needs and priorities that eventually blossom into the commercial world. Our mission has been unchanged in 55 years, but the geopolitical context we re in always shapes how we execute that mission." The agency has been geared toward developing the latest in military technology, but with the United States reducing its military presence worldwide after more than a decade of war, DARPA s mission will face some changes this year. Prabhakar said much of the focus will remain on traditional programs such as next-genera- tion Air Force air dominance and Navy missile defense. "We re rapidly pulling together and dramatically upgrading existing Navy missile capabilities...and we are trying to think in fresh ways about how to extend air capabilities into the next generation --- new ways of integrating new technology across many different domains," she said. "That s going to be a big impact story." However, the emphasis will begin shifting to other defense-related areas, such as advancements in the treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI). "In the next year, we have new areas growing and taking off in terri c directions [regarding] brain function research," she said. "We re now part of the presidential BRAIN Initiative... so 2014 is going to be an important year for those [research efforts] to get off the ground and for build- ing the teams that are going to drive those areas forward." The Obama administration s BRAIN initiative --- the acro- nym stands for Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies --- also seeks to nd ways to treat, prevent and cure other brain disorders, such as Alzheimer s, schizophrenia, autism and epilepsy. The focus on brain research is becoming increasingly important because many troops are returning from war with TBI and psychological trauma from combat. DARPA s work includes techniques that help restore active memory that has been damaged by TBI; deep brain stimulation, which involves surgically implant- ing a neurostimulator in the BY AMBER CORRIN The agency will draw on its history of innovation as it moves into new mission areas, including brain research DARPA broadens its agenda in 2014 February 2014 FCW.COM 27 DrillDown " " dn h What we do changes every year, every ve years or every 10 years, but our core mission and way of doing business --- we're an engine that's been humming for a long time. FLICKR.COM/USNAVYRESEARCH
March 15, 2014