Diversity and Equal Opportunities Committee

The Diversity and Equal Opportunities Committee (DEOC) - former Gender Advisory Committee (GAC) - is an advisory body to the Project Coordination Office (PCO) and Directorate (DIR) of the Human Brain Project (HBP). The Diversity and Equal Opportunities Committee is composed of HBP board members, leaders, scientist, technologists or managers engaged in the work for the HBP from different domains. Each board and Work Package appoints at least one, preferable two members (ideally of different genders) for the DEOC, who are chosen for their unique engagement and willingness to contribute. The Diversity and Equal Opportunities Committee is providing advice and feedback on the Gender Action Plan (GAP) of the HBP and on activities planned to improve equality in their respective areas of responsibility.

The former GAC decided to be renamed to "Diversity and Equal Opportunities Committee (DEOC)" to emphasise intersectionality and inclusiveness as key principles to be considered.


Committee Members

“To my mind diversity and the inclusion of many different perspectives is fundamentally important, especially in a project like the HBP. We have to improve in its Gender Balance, just as we need to have a good balance of young people and older people, people from different cultures and disciplines. As Scientific Research Director I am glad that we are actively working on this issue.”

In 2016 Katrin Amunts became Chair of the HBP Science and Infrastructure Board (SIB) and Scientific Research Director.

Katrin Amunts graduated in 1987 in medicine and biophysics. She did her PhD in medicine and her postdoctoral work in the Cécile and Otto Vogt Institute for Brain Research at Düsseldorf University, Germany. In 1999, she set up a new research unit for Brain Mapping in the Research Centre Jülich. In 2004, she became a Professor for Structural-Functional Brain Mapping, and in 2008 full Professor at the Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics at RWTH Aachen University. Since 2013, she is Professor for Brain Research and director of the C. and O. Vogt Institute for Brain Research, Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf and director of the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-1), Research Centre Jülich. Her research interest is to develop a three-dimensional atlas of the human brain that integrates the different levels of brain organisation across the scales as tool to better understand human brain organisation.

Katrin Amunts is member and Vice-Chair of the German Ethics Council. She is member of the German National Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech) and the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences, Humanities and the Arts. She also serves on the editorial board of Brain Structure and Function, is the speaker of the German Helmholtz Association programme Decoding the Human Brain. Since 2017 she is Co-Speaker of the newly established Max Planck School of Cognition.

Karin Grasenick (convelop cooperative knowledge design gmbh, www.convelop.at)

Karin graduated in Computer Science and Biomedical Engineering. Her thesis on innovative non-invasive techniques to measure stroke volume led to a growing interest in inter- and transdisciplinary research, diversity in research content and equal opportunities in science. She lectures, coaches and supports teams, universities and international projects in gender mainstreaming, diversity and change management. In the HBP, she actively supports the recognition of diversity as a success factor for research and innovation. Together with her team she provides tools and techniques for researchers accordingly.

Pilar F. Romero is part of WP1, working at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) as Scientific Project Manager at Laboratorio Cajal de Circuitos Corticales (CCCL). After completing her PhD in Biology, she moved into science management, collaborating on the preparation and running of research projects at national, European and international levels. She is in charge of the RTD Management Unit at CCCL and her main responsibilities include scientific project and data management as well as the coordination of new proposals and actions to optimise research applications and funding activities.

Javier De Felipe is a research professor at the Instituto Cajal (CSIC) and Director of the Laboratorio Cajal de Circuitos Corticales at UPM. His particular expertise lies in the correlation of electron microscopy data with the synaptic connectivity of neurons previously identified using functional markers, or by intracellular labelling. Another of his principal interests is the analysis of alterations of cortical circuits in epilepsy and Alzheimer’s Disease and in the study of the history of cortical organisation and function. Furthermore, his laboratory is involved in the development of a variety of software tools to classify neuronal cell types and to examine the anatomical design of brain circuits.

Svenja Caspers is Deputy Leader of WP1. She studied and graduated in Medicine, Business Studies and Economics. After her MD thesis, she worked as a postdoc in the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-2) of the Research Centre Jülich (Germany). In 2012, she received her PhD in Economics from the University of Cologne (Germany) and became team leader of the 1000BRAINS cohort study at the INM-1 of the Research Centre Jülich. She became Associate Professor for Connectivity in the Human Brain in 2015 at Düsseldorf University (Germany) and Connectivity working group leader at INM-1 of the Research Centre Jülich. She is director and full professor for Anatomy of the Institute for Anatomy I at Düsseldorf University. Since 2020, she is also Vice Dean for Teaching and Quality of Studies at the Medical Faculty of the Düsseldorf University. Her research focuses on the combination of postmortem microscopic analyses with in-vivo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for investigating structure-function-connectivity relationships in higher-order association cortices in the human brain. She is extensively working with large population-based cohort studies, e.g. the German National Cohort, using high-throughput processing pipelines on high-performance computing to particularly study environmental and genetic influences in lifespan trajectories of aging.

Mira Marcus-Kalish is part of WP1 and WP8 and is the Director of International Research Collaborations at Tel Aviv University. Her main areas of interest are mathematical modelling, converging technologies and data mining. She holds a Ph.D. in Operations Research from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, where she developed one of the first computerised systems for electrocardiogram (ECG) diagnosis. She completed her postdoctoral training at Harvard University, the MBCRR (Molecular Biology Computer Research and Resource) laboratory and at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. She was and is involved in many EU projects, including NanoAthero, GLAM, ENATRANS and the HBP focusing on disease signature identification and big vs small data analysis towards reliable, personalised and precise medicine for the benefit of society. Dr. Kalish was involved at the private sector, as well, working for IBM, Apple, NCR, etc. She took an active part in Cross Disciplinary research and Converging Technologies including the EU-US Wtec-NBIC2 and was one of the founders of the "Dead Sea Research Institute for life in extreme conditions" and the Tel Aviv University "Healthy Aging" Initiative.

Lars Muckli is Task Leader in WP2 and Professor of Visual and Cognitive Neurosciences and Director of functional MRI at the University of Glasgow, UK. He studied Psychology and Cognitive Science at the Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany. In 1997, he did his diploma degree in Psychology (Master of Science in Psychology) at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and University of Giessen. In 2002, he did his Ph.D. (Neurophysiology/Neurocognition) at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Maastricht, the Netherlands, for which he was awarded with highest honours. He was project group leader of the functional magnetic resonance imaging group at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research. He was also PI at the Brain Imaging Centre in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Since 2015, he is Co-chair of 7T-MRI at the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences (MVLS) of the University of Glasgow, UK.

His research focuses on cortical feedback and predictive coding in the visual cortex, using functional brain imaging (fMRI, TMS, EEG) to investigate how the brain constructs internal models and feeds information back to primary visual cortex, V1. His lab investigates visual illusions, and contextual processing in non-feedforward stimulated parts of V1.

Sacha van Albada is Deputy Leader of WP3, Junior Professor for Computational Neuroanatomy at the University of Cologne, and leader of the group "Theoretical Neuroanatomy" at Research Center Jülich, Germany. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from University College Utrecht, the Netherlands, followed by a Master's in Theoretical Physics from Utrecht University, and a PhD at the School of Physics at the University of Sydney, Australia. Her group combines anatomical and physiological data from a wide range of sources to build neural network models of mammalian cerebral cortex. The aim is to understand relationships between cortical structure and dynamics, and to provide models that serve as platforms for further refinement and for incorporating cortical function.

Mathew Birdsall Abrams is Director of Science and Training at the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility (INCF, Sweden), an organisation dedicated to developing collaborative neuroinformatics infrastructure and standards, as well as promoting the sharing of data and computing resources to the international research community. Since 2012, Mathew has worked with an international group of scientists developing standards, data models, and infrastructure that support neuroimaging, electrophysiology, modelling, and the digital brain atlasing communities. Before joining INCF, Mathew was a researcher in the Department of Neuroscience at Karolinska Institute, Sweden, where his research involved the use of rodent models of traumatic spinal cord injury. He did both his Master and his PhD in Neuroscience at Tulane University, USA. In the HBP, he is a Task Leader in WP4, where he is responsible for development of Knowledge Space and member of the ontology engineering team.

Peter Gierow obtained his PhD in biochemistry at Lund University, Sweden in 1988. He was then a post-doctoral fellow at Department of Physiology & Biophysics and at Department of Ophthalmology, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine (USC), Los Angeles, USA, followed by a position as Assistant Professor at Department of Cell & Neurobiology, USC. He was a Senior Lecturer at University of Kalmar, Sweden from 1995 to 2008, before becoming Professor of Biochemistry at the same university, now renamed as Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden. His research interests are in the field of tear film and lacrimal gland physiology, as well as dry eye syndromes. He is currently President of European Charter of the American Academy of Optometry. Since 2019, he contributes to the HBP, where he is part of WP4.

Damian Okaibedi Eke is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility at De Montfort University, UK. He is a Philosopher and has a PhD in Computer Ethics. Dr. Eke is the Data Governance coordinator for the EU Human Brain Project and leads the International Brain Initiative (IBI) Data Sharing and Standards Working Group Task Force on International Data Governance. His research interests cover critical philosophical issues at the intersection of Technology, Information and Society including Data Governance, Ethics of Emerging Technologies, Responsible Innovation and ICT4D.

Katrien Van Look provides scientific coordination for Task 5.2 in WP5. Katrien has a background in the biological sciences and a PhD in environmental toxicology. After 10 years of research, she left the laboratory bench to focus on science communication, public engagement and event organisation. Katrien was a Scientific Communications Officer for the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute for almost 3 years, before becoming the Coordinator of the Cambridge Cancer Centre, a strategic research initiative of the University of Cambridge. In 2014, Katrien joined the Blue Brain Project, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, as a Scientific Project Coordinator, working in the Computing Division. From 2014-2020, she provided scientific coordination, communications, community-building and project management for the Brain Simulation Platform of the Human Brain Project.

Benjamin Weyers is working at the University Trier, Germany, as Assistant Professor for Practical Informatics leading the Human-Computer Interaction group. From Oct. 2013 until Nov. 2018, he worked as post doc in the Virtual Reality Group at RWTH Aachen University, Germany. His research interests include formal methods in human-computer interaction, especially the use of Petri net-based description concepts and graph transformation systems for modelling flexible and adaptable user interfaces, virtual reality, interactive data analysis and information visualisation, collaborative and learning systems, as well as ambient intelligent systems. Benjamin studied Applied Computer Science at University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany and reached in 2008 the diploma degree (Dipl.-Inform.). In December 2011, he finished his PhD studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen and stayed there until September 2013 as research associate and lecturer. Since March 2020, he is Task Leader for the development of a Visualisation framework in WP5 of HBP and leads the software metadata curation for the EBRAINS Knowledge Graph.

Abigail Morrison is professor of Computer Science at RWTH Aachen, Germany and group leader of “Computation in Neural Circuits” at INM-6/IAS-6, Research Centre Jülich, Germany. She is also scientific lead of the “Simulation Laboratory Neuroscience” at the Jülich Supercomputing Centre. In the HBP, she leads the Task on Spiking network level description in WP5. She holds a Master’s Degree in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Edinburgh, UK and received her PhD in computational neuroscience in 2006 from the University of Freiburg, Germany. Between 2006 and 2009 she was a scientific researcher at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Wako-Shi, Japan; she subsequently held a junior professorship at the University of Freiburg, Germany, as well as a group leadership at the Bernstein Center Freiburg from 2009 to 2012, followed by a full professorship until 2020 in the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Ruhr University, Bochum, Germany. Her research interests include learning, representation and computation in spiking neural networks, dynamics and computation in neurodegenerative diseases, and high-performance simulation technology.

Andrew Davison is Senior Research Scientist and Neuroinformatics Group Leader at the Department of Integrative and Computational Neuroscience Paris-Saclay Institute of Neuroscience (CNRS/Université Paris-Saclay, France). His main research interests are in large-scale, data-constrained, biologically-detailed modelling of neuronal networks. Andrew completed his Ph.D. in Computational Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge (UK), did a postdoc at Yale University (USA), then moved to the CNRS (France) where he has now been for 18 years. Among others, he is Associate Editor for Frontiers in Neuroscience since 2011 and Coordinator of the French Node of the INCF since 2017. In the HBP, Andrew is part of WP4, WP5 and WP6, in which he leads the Task for deployment and management of neuromorphic systems.

Björn Kindler has been part of the HBP since the very beginning of the project in 2013 and is currently co-manager of WP6, which is responsible for EBRAINS Computing Services and the Neuromorphic Computing systems SpiNNaker and BrainScaleS. He is working as Administrator at the Kirchhoff-Institute for Physics in Heidelberg, Germany.

Annemieke Michels works as Senior Scientific Editor in WP7 for the Project Coordination Office at the EBRAINS AISBL. She is part of the HBP since 2018. Her main tasks in the HBP are coordination of the Deliverable process, editing and advising of a range of documents, such as Deliverables, Amendments, Reports and Call texts. She has a Master’s Degree in Medical Biology from Utrecht University, and a PhD in Medical Sciences from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. Her main research fields were protein kinases and signalling, transcription, and protein folding. Before joining the HBP, she worked as a postdoc at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Paris, France, as Biochemist/Molecular Biologist at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland and as Grant Writer at the Policlinique Médicale Universitaire (PMU) de Lausanne, Switzerland.

Andrea Alonso-Allende did her Business and Management Degree at Complutense University of Madrid and her Master’s Degree in Analysis of International Economic Relations at Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid, Spain. She also studied at the Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria. Before joining the HBP, she worked as special markets Analyst at Lladro, United States, and as Project Coordinator and Program Manager at the Foundation Rey Juan Carlos University, Spain. In 2015, she joined the HBP as Project Manager and currently works for the Project Coordination Office in WP7 at the EBRAINS AISBL. She holds several certifications in project management, including PRINCE2, AgilePgM and MSP.

Sylvia Aßlaber did her Bachelor’s Degrees in Sociology and in Architecture as well as her Master’s Degree in Gender, Culture and Social Change at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. Her areas of expertise are Event promotion and on-site support, Public Relations, Social Media & Website and Market Research. She joined the HBP in 2019 and works now as Project Assistant for the HBP Education Programme Team in WP8, where she is responsible for the support of the organisation and execution of educational and outreach activities, media design, and more.

Franziska Vogel did her Bachelor's Degree in Photography and Media at the University of Applied Sciences in Bielefeld, focusing on Cultural Memory and the influence it has on gender roles. She then started her degree in Media Studies at the Ruhr University Bochum and after that finished her Diploma in Media Art at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design with a focus on Media Philosophy and Art. Before joining the HBP she has worked at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology at the Department of Anthropomatic and Robotic as a PR Manager for Scientific Communication and at the Research Center for Information Technology in Karlsruhe. In 2021 Franziska joined the HBP as a Project Manager for the HBP Education Programme Team in WP8.

Michele Farisco is part of CRB's neuroethics research team. He was appointed Associate Professor of Moral Philosophy in Italy. He holds a degree in Philosophy from University of Naples "L'Orientale", Italy, in 2003, a PhD in "Ethics and Anthropology. History and Foundation" from University of Lecce, Italy, in 2008 and a Master degree in Biolaw from the University of Rome "Lumsa", Italy, in 2009. He spent time on an exchange grant from the European Neuroscience and Society Network within the European Science Foundation joining the Coma Science Group of the University of Liège, Belgium. He is the head of the "Science and society" research unit of Biogem Genetic Research Centre in Ariano Irpino, Italy. He is the author of three books and several articles about posthuman philosophy and philosophical, ethical and legal implications (ELSI) of genetics and neuroscience. Michele is currently working on his second PhD about the neuroscience of disorders of consciousness (from laboratory to clinics). He is part of WP2, WP3 and WP9. His current research focuses on consciousness, Artificial Intelligence, and reciprocal connection. Specifically, in collaboration with empirical scientists from inside and outside the HBP, his research aims at developing a philosophical and ethical framework for the experimental and computational explorations of cognition and consciousness.

Arleen Salles, PhD. M.A. is a Senior Researcher in the Neuroethics and Philosophy Group at the Centre for Research and Bioethics (CRB) of Uppsala University, and a Task Leader and research collaborator in the Ethics and Society Work Package (WP9) of the Human Brain Project. She is  also  board member of the International Neuroethics Society and serves as a member of the International Brain Initiative's Neuroethics Workgroup. Salles is Director of the Neuroethics Program of Centro de Investigaciones Filosoficas in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

Camilla Hagen Blixhavn is a researcher and PhD candidate in Neuroinformatics at the University of Oslo, Norway. She is especially involved in atlas integration of rodent brain research data in the Human Brain Project and thus part of WP4, responsible for Data Curation. She couples her experience from organisational and creative leadership positions together with her studies in psychology, biology, didactics and neuroscience, and continues to strategise towards the needs of researchers in science and health. Camilla did her Bachelor’s degree in Cell and Molecular biology as well as her Master’s degree in Neuroscience at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. In the HBP, she is Student Ambassador and collaborates on various matters across the Student community of the HBP.

Oluyinka "Olu" Oyeniji is a PhD Student within WP9 of the HBP in the Center for Computing and Social Responsibility, De Montfort University in Leicester, UK. His research is focused on "Framing neuro-ethics and cultural influences". He has a background in Law and Ethics of Emerging Technologies. He is optimistic that the global nature of neuroscience research may extend beyond boundaries, guaranteeing the inclusion of peoples and identifying with peculiar cultural identities.