Henry Markram, director of the Blue Brain Project, has already simulated elements of a rat brain.
He told the TED Global conference in Oxford that a synthetic human brain would be of particular use finding treatments for mental illnesses.
"It is not impossible to build a human brain and we can do it in 10 years," he said.
The Blue Brain project was launched in 2005 and aims to reverse engineer the mammalian brain from laboratory data.
In particular, his team has focused on the neocortical column - repetitive units of the mammalian brain known as the neocortex.
"It's a new brain," he explained. "The mammals needed it because they had to cope with parenthood, social interactions complex cognitive functions.
"It was so successful an evolution from mouse to man it expanded about a thousand fold in terms of the numbers of units to produce this almost frightening organ."
And that evolution continues, he said. "It is evolving at an enormous speed."
"It's a bit like going and cataloguing a bit of the rainforest - how may trees does it have, what shape are the trees, how many of each type of tree do we have, what is the position of the trees," he said.
"But it is a bit more than cataloguing because you have to describe and discover all the rules of communication, the rules of connectivity."