Making Sense of the Brain's Mind-Boggling Complexity
Leading scientists in integrating and visualizing the explosion
of information about the brain will convene at a conference commemorating
the 10th anniversary of the Human Brain Project (HBP). "A Decade
of Neuroscience Informatics: Looking Ahead," (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/neuroinformatics/annmeeting.cfm)
will be held April 26-27 at the William H. Natcher Conference Center
on the NIH Campus in Bethesda, MD.
Through the HBP, federal agencies fund a system of web-based databases
and research tools that help brain scientists share and integrate
their raw, primary research data. At the conference, eminent neuroscientists
and neuroinformatics specialists will recap the field's achievements
and forecast its future technological, scientific and social challenges
"The explosion of data about the brain is overwhelming conventional
ways of making sense of it," said Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.,
Director of the National Institutes of Health. "Like the Human
Genome Project, the Human Brain Project is building shared databases
in standardized digital form, integrating information from the level
of the gene to the level of behavior. These resources will ultimately
help us better understand the connection between brain function
and human health."
The HBP is coordinated and sponsored by fifteen federal organizations
across four federal agencies: the National Institutes of Health
(NIMH, NIDA, NINDS, NIDCD, NIA, NIBIB, NICHD, NLM, NCI, NHLBI, NIAAA,
NIDCR), the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration, and the U.S. Department of Energy. Representatives
from all of these organizations comprise the Federal Interagency
Coordinating Committee on the Human Brain Project, which is coordinated
by the NIMH. During the initial 10 years of this program 241 investigators
have been funded for a total of approximately $100 million.
More than 65,000 neuroscientists publish their results each month
in some 300 journals, with their output growing, in some cases,
by orders of magnitude, explained Stephen Koslow, Ph.D., NIMH Associate
Director for Neuroinformatics, who chairs the HBP Coordinating Committee.
"It's virtually impossible for any individual researcher to
maintain an integrated view of the brain and to relate his or her
narrow findings to this whole cloth," he said. "It's no
longer sufficient for neuroscientists to simply publish their findings
piecemeal. We're trying to make the most of advanced information
technologies to weave their data into an understandable tapestry."
The conference will feature neuroscience opinion leaders on the
first day, followed by HBP grantees on the second day. There will
also be a poster session at the working lunch and at the reception
at the end of the first day.
"The presentations will highlight what is now possible because
of these ten years of research in Neuroscience Informatics,"