March 8, 2017

New opinion article proposes an approach linking brain organisation stages from genes to consciousness

In the article, entitled "Climbing brain levels of organisation from genes to consciousness", Prof. Changeux proposes and approach that offers insights into the long-distance connection between genes and cognitive functions, including the relationship between brain development and sociocultural environment. The strategy links the stages of brain organisation at four structural levels: genes; transcription factors (TF)-gene networks; synaptic epigenesist; and, long-range connectivity.

There are several international programs that aim to our advance understanding of the human brain using different approaches, but some serious challenges still remain. One of these is that much of the data generated do not allude to the molecular level, an essential aspect for drug design. In addition, modelling studies rarely take into account evolutionary and developmental dynamics of brain organisation, and microprocessor models may not fully represent synaptic and neuronal dynamics. The various concepts and data from disparate brain disciplines therefore need to be integrated into a unified framework of brain biology and development.

Prof. Changeux puts forward a framework to connect these levels via interlevel bridging processes that operate both top-down and bottom-up, and also considers the different timescales apparent during the brain's development. The strategy proposed could help integrate these discrete brain disciplines and the wealth of data generated, and may pave the way towards new IT modelling approaches that integrate multiple timescale dynamics. As well as insights into the relationships between genes and functions, the strategy also proposes how these relationships might be altered in brain disorders. Prof. Changeux hopes that the proposed framework may help to unify the varied multidisciplinary approaches aimed at understanding the human brain.

The full text of the paper is available on the Trends in Cognitive Sciences website.

Jan. 26, 2017

HBP begins work on gender equality

Over the next two years, foundations will be laid for a comprehensive and sustainable gender strategy for the entire term of the HBP. The HBP is supported in this challenging task by EAF Berlin, an independent, non-profit research and consulting organization.

The activities planned for the next 15 months include:

  • An online survey of all HBP staff, the results of which will serve as a baseline to ensure that future policies can be aligned with identified needs and barriers. Both female and male scientists will be invited to share their experiences and recommendations.
  • A good practice study and a database will collect innovative policies and existing measures from the collaborating partners and institutions in order to disseminate good practices and to raise awareness.
  • In order to monitor gender equality activities and to transfer them into the entire HBP, a gender advisory committee, linked to the governing structures of the HBP, will be set up. A gender action plan with targets and milestones will be developed.
  • Finally, a conference on gender perspectives will take place in 2018.

The gender equality activities are coordinated by the Project Coordination Office in Geneva.

Founded as a spin-off of the Technical University of Berlin, the EAF Berlin has 20 years of experience of advising clients in the public and private sector, as well as in academia, on gender equality and diversity. For more information, visit

Dec. 14, 2016

HBP takes part in the 3rd Annual Brain Initiative Investigators Meeting

Bethesda, 12-14 December 2016.

Several of the HBP's leading researchers and developers participated in the 3rd Annual BRAIN Initiative® Investigators Meeting 2016 on 12 - 14 December in Bethesda, USA. This event brought together a diverse crowd of US-based and international investigators from numerous brain science and technology research areas, US funding agencies, non-governmental organisations, members of the US Congress, patient groups and the public.

Nov. 2, 2016

Key HBP article published in Neuron

The article, authored by Katrin Amunts, Christoph Ebell, Jeff Muller, Martin Telefont, Alois Knoll and Thomas Lippert, explains the funding and governance structure for the HBP and emphasizes the neuroscientific approach at the core of the Project. The authors describe how and why the HBP was set up to decode the human brain, and that the key to understanding the brain lies in obtaining deep insights into the function and organization of the brain on multiple levels; this is fundamental to the HBP&'s neuroscientific approach. The article emphasizes the HBP&'s position as the first large-scale initiative in brain research, leading the way for other similar initiatives worldwide. The scale of the Project means that effective collaboration and interdisciplinary expertise, which can clearly be seen across all Subprojects, is crucial to its success.

The article reiterates the primary aim of the HBP, i.e. to build a European Research Infrastructure for brain research. To this end, the article explains how the Project is rooted in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), particularly in terms of the integrated system of the HBP Platforms and the services they offer to users. The roles of the Neuroinformatics Platform as the core of the IT architecture and of the High Performance Analytics and Computing Platform as the main hardware support are particularly considered. In addition, the article also highlights the role of the Collaboratory as the access point for the HBP Platforms. A key message is the importance of international cooperation, and the article underlines the types of partnership and collaboration the HBP anticipates for its future success.

We would suggest that for anyone seeking an overview of the aims, main achievements and future potential of the HBP, this article would be an excellent place to begin.

Read the full article on the Neuron website

Aug. 18, 2016

1st PCP pilot JULIA now available at Jülich Supercomputing Centre

JULIA is one of the two pioneering pilot systems developed by Cray in the Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) process that took place during the HBP Ramp-up Phase. The system is located at Jülich Supercomputing Centre, Germany, and is now available for use!

The key technologies used for the Cray pilot system are:

  • KNL-based compute nodes
  • 100 Gbps network technology (Omni-Path)
  • NVRAM technologies
  • Coherent software stack.

Pre-Commercial Procurement involves obtaining the research and development of new, innovative solutions before they become commercially available. Detailed information on PCP is provided by the European Commission here.

To find out more about JULIA, including how to access the system, please click here

Julia is maintained by the HBP's High Performance Analytics and Computing Platform.