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EU funds 'human brain' computing project

Project could ultimately help develop personalised neurological treatments

The European Union has thrown its backing behind a project that aims to harness computing technology in order to develop the most detailed ever model of the human brain.

The Human Brain Project, which could ultimately help develop personalised treatment of neurological and related diseases, is one of two recipients of huge EU research excellence awards.

The Project, along with an initiative to exploit the potential of Graphene, have each been awarded 10-year, one billion euro funding deals.

The Human Brain Project, which involves researchers from at least 15 EU Member States and nearly 200 research institutes, will create the world's largest experimental facility for studying how the human brain works.

The EU said that the research will lay “the scientific and technical foundations for medical progress that has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life for millions of Europeans”.

The Project describes its goal as to “build a completely new ICT infrastructure for future neuroscience, future medicine and future computing” with the hope this will spearhead a global collaborative effort to understand the human brain and its diseases.

Neuroscience remains an incredibly challenging area for the medical researchers and the pharmaceutical industry, with scientists still held back by a lack of unified understanding about the brain.

There is a deluge of new data coming from labs all over the world but tapping into, and managing it, requires radically new information communications technology (ICT).

The Human Brain Project has echoes of the work IBM has been doing with its supercomputer Watson, which just this week released its first clinical decision support tools for oncologists.

The Project's first goal will be to build an integrated system of six ICT-based research platforms, that will provide neuroscientists, medical researchers and technology developers with access to new tools and services.

These will include a 'neuroinformatics platform', that links to other international initiatives, bringing together data and knowledge from neuroscientists around the world and making it available to the scientific community.

The Project's second goal is to trigger and drive a global, collaborative effort to use its platforms to address fundamental issues in future neuroscience, future medicine and future computing.

“The end result will be not just a new understanding of the brain but transformational new ICT,” the Human Brain Project says.

12th February 2013

From: Research

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