Biotechnology

The Final Human Brain Project Summit was closed with a vision for the future

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The ten-year European Flagship Human Brain Project (HBP) links brain research with computing and technology in a large-scale, interdisciplinary approach. During the HBP Summit, researchers presented the project’s abundant scientific achievements and the legacy it will leave for the research community. With the project nearing its conclusion in September 2023, the focal point of the last HBP Summit in Marseille was the discussion on the future of digital brain research.

The ten-year European Flagship Human Brain Project (HBP) links brain research with computing and technology in a large-scale interdisciplinary approach. During the HBP Summit, researchers presented the project’s abundant scientific achievements and the legacy it will leave for the research community. With the project nearing its conclusion in September 2023, the focal point of the last HBP Summit in Marseille was the discussion on the future of digital brain research.

One of the project’s enduring contributions is the EBRAINS research infrastructure, which provides open access to state-of-the-art technologies, tools, data and services for brain research and will remain available to the scientific community beyond 2023. During the four-day meeting, scientists from across across Europe demonstrated how EBRAINS had advanced their research.

“A job that I used to do two days before now takes only ten minutes,” says neurologist Nicola Palomero-Gallagher of Forschungszentrum Jülich and the University of Düsseldorf. “I work with an atlas of the human brain at EBRAINS, which includes huge amounts of data – very finely digitized parts of the brain – that you can’t handle on a normal laptop. You need a supercomputer. In the past, this has not been easily accessible. Now, it’s really simplified, and I can access and work with data from anywhere in the world – so can any brain science researcher!”

The Human Brain Project has had a fundamental impact on the way brain research is conducted. A strong network of interdisciplinary researchers has been formed to study the complexities of the human brain in large-scale collaborative endeavors. At the summit, which was also attended by many researchers from outside the HBP, it was clear that the network had grown far beyond the boundaries of the project over the years. “There is an openness to community,” said HBP researcher Viktor Jirsa of the University of Aix-Marseille, host of this year’s summit, during a panel discussion on the future of neuroscience. “A project, by definition, always has a beginning and an end, but what we are seeing now at the end of the Human Brain Project continues,” Jirsa said of the collaborative approach.

“We are all coming out of our silos,” commented neuroscientist Stephanie Forkel of Radboud University in the Netherlands during the panel, which included representatives of major research initiatives from Japan, the US, Canada and Europe, all of whom stressed the importance of international collaboration for the advancement of future brain research. front.

Discussions about the future of neuroscience, which culminated at this week’s HBP Summit, had begun months earlier: In a collaborative effort, 98 researchers from 16 countries put together a position paper outlining a shared vision for the future of digital brain research. The paper was initiated by a group of scientists from the Human Brain Project and put up for discussion on the Zenodo platform. Comments from many researchers around the world are integrated over time. About a third of the authors of the latest version are from outside the HBP community. “The idea of ​​our vision paper is to open up this discussion and make it fully inclusive. It is important to go beyond the HBP community and capture all the elements of future digital brain research,” said Katrin Amunts, HBP Director of Scientific Research.

Latest version of the newspaper “The next decade of digital brain research – A vision for neuroscience at the intersection of technology and computing” was published shortly before the summit, and an executive summary of the paper was submitted to the European Commission’s Directorate General of Communications, Content and Technology Networks during the event.

“The open community discussions showed us very clearly where many of the major developments and brain research needs meet at this time,” said Katrin Amunts. “Our paper describes the areas of research we are looking at for the coming years, the instrumentation needed, and the main opportunities.”

“Within the Human Brain Project, we are pioneering connecting neuroscience with digital technology on a very large scale to investigate the complexity of the human brain,” said Katrin Amunts. “Major achievements have resulted from this approach, such as the world’s leading 3D brain atlas, breakthroughs for personalized medicine based on computational brain modeling, brain-derived and computational AI providing new pathways for technology, and many more. This is progress that must be built further.

“A systematic approach will be critical to meeting the pressing medical and technological challenges of the coming decades,” said Katrin Amunts.

Further links:

Human Brain Project Final – Achievements and future of digital brain research
https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/news/final-human-brain-project-summit-achievements-and-future-digital-brain-research

Booklet and Spotlight Brochure on scientific progress of HBP
https://www.humanbrainproject.eu/en/science-development/scientific-achievements/brochures


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