30 Jan 2013   |   Network Updates

Warsaw University of Technology: HBP – flagship project of the European Union


The European Commission has chosen the Human Brain Project (HBP) as one of its two long-term strategic projects in the programme FET Flagship. The main aim of the HBP project will be joint work of European scientists to meet one of the greatest challenges of modern science – understanding the human brain, and the project’s underlying assumption is the use of modern information technologies, supercomputers, specialised robots and information technologies for analysis of large data sets in order to create models gathering scattered knowledge on the work and structure of the human brain.

Brain models, of a completely new level of complexity, are a novelty in research into the brain, both a healthy one and one changed in the course of a disease.

On 28 January 2013, the European Commission supported the vision and announced that HBP was chosen one of the two flagship projects of the European Union. The choice of the Human Brain Project in the FET Flagship programme was preceded by three years of preparations; the project was carefully assessed by a panel of independent outstanding scientists chosen by the European Commission, which appreciated it highly. In the next few months, the scientists involved in the project will start to develop a detailed plan of the first 2.5-year stage (2013 to mid-2016). The whole project will run for ten years (2013-2023) in over 80 international research institutions. The coordinators include: Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland (prof. Henry Markram), University in Heidelberg in Germany (prof. Karlheinz Meier), Clinique Hospitalière Universitaire Vaudoise (CHUV) (prof. Ryszard Frąckowiak) and the University of Lausanne (UNIL).
 
The team from Warsaw University of Technology, led by Piotr Bogorodzki, Ph.D., D.Sc., participates in the part of the project connected with creating a database with image, genetic, clinical and behavioural data. Creation of the database, which integrates knowledge from a number of areas, will allow to understand biological processes occurring in the brain of healthy and ill people. It is a key element of developing the model of the brain.

Scientific profile of the project

The Human Brain Project will provide new tools useful in understanding the brain and the mechanisms of its functioning. The knowledge acquired will be used in medicine and information technology. The Human Brain Project strictly relies on the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). As a result of the project, ICT platforms will be developed, useful in a new field of science, neuroinformatics. The calculating power of supercomputers will enable to integrate an incredible number of neurophysiologic data from the whole world and to create a model of the functioning of the brain. Working on combining the knowledge on human genes, cell structure and their influence on cognitive functions and behaviour of the human are important partial aims of HBP.

In the part devoted to medical IT, results of clinical research from basically the whole world will be collected in databases. Information on disease processes and including them in computer models of diseases will allow to develop techniques of objective diagnosis of brain diseases and to accelerate the search for new treatment methods. Moreover, in the field of IT, HBP will suggest "neuromorfic computing" and "neurorobotics", i.e. developing new computer systems and robots inspired by the structure and functioning of the brain. Thanks to that, the most important issues faced by future calculation technologies will be solved, such as energy efficiency, reliability and difficulty in programming very complex calculating systems.
 
Information on FET Flagships of the European Union:

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