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When you've co-founded the world's biggest software company, what do you do for an encore? How about using computer science to help develop treatments for neurological conditions?
That's what Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen had in mind when he recruited leading neuroscientists to create the $41-million Allen Brain Atlas-a 3-D virtual map detailing the 20,000 genes in the mouse brain. Because scientists can't get living samples of human brain cells, they turn to mice, whose brains are very similar to ours.
Since its completion this September, the Brain Atlas has become a valuable resource for researchers studying everything from Alzheimer's to autism. And it promises to help unlock the mystery of how the brain works in health as well as sickness.