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CNP investigators involved in European Commision FET Flagship Project

CNP’s Zachary Mainen and Rui Costa to participate in Human Brain Project

  1. 28.1.2013

    The European Commission has officially announced the selection of the Human Brain Project (HBP) as one of its two FET (Future and Emerging Technologies) Flagship projects. The new project will coordinate European efforts to address one of the greatest challenges of modern science: understanding the human brain.

    The Human Brain Project strives to understand the human brain, and it was this challenge that brought together around 80 research institutes, including the Champalimaud Foundation, the only Portuguese institution participating in this project.

    The goal of the Human Brain Project is to pull together all our existing knowledge about the human brain and to reconstruct the brain, piece by piece, in supercomputer-based models and simulations. The models offer the prospect of a new understanding of the human brain and its diseases and of completely new computing and robotic technologies

    Among the 200 plus investigators involved in this consortium are the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme’s Rui Costa and Zachary Mainen. For Rui Costa, “The Human Brain Project will be a unique opportunity to share knowledge and develop models which allow us to understand the complexity of the neural circuits which make up the human brain.

    Researchers from the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme will participate in this projecto n two levels. “On one the hand we will try to establish a relationship between action, behavior and the neural circuits at their core, and on the other we plan to develop computational models which allow us to integrate and process this information”, explains Zachary Mainen.

    For the Minister of Education and Science, the Human Brain Project, is a project of “high-risk/high-gain with great potential for health and the understanding of human behaviour.”

    The Foundation for Science and Technology congratulate the decision of the European Commission to support the Human Brain Project, which it considers to be “a direct reflection of the international competitiveness that science has brought to Portugal.”

    The Human Brain Project is planned to last ten years (2013-2023), with an estimated cost of 1.19 billion euros. The project will also involve some important North American and Japanese partners. It will be coordinated at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, by neuroscientist Henry Markram with co-directors Karlheinz Meier of Heidelberg University, Germany, and Richard Frackowiak of Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV) and the University of Lausanne (UNIL).

    The selection of the Human Brain Project as a FET Flagship is the result of more than three years of preparation and a rigorous and severe evaluation by a large panel of independent, high profile scientists, chosen by the European Commission. In the coming months, the partners will negotiate a detailed agreement with the Community for the initial first two and a half year ramp-up phase (2013-mid 2016). The project will begin work in the closing months of 2013.

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