• Event Report

HBP Partnering Projects meet at Nijmegen to discuss their scientific outcomes and the future of EBRAINS

14 September 2022

From September 5th to 7th 2022, the EBRAINS Workshop HBP Partnering Projects: status quo & outlook that was hosted by the annual Donders Cognitive, Brain & Technology Summer school (DCBT 2022) took place in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

The meeting gave the platform for thirty-one speakers to showcase their scientific achievements that were fostered by the HBP Partnering Project environment, and approximately 50 participants, including summer school attendees, to engage into scientific discussions and networking.

Participants had also the opportunity to follow parallel sessions on the EBRAINS services as well as to discuss with HBP/EBRAINS representatives on the ways EBRAINS’ services could evolve serving the wider scientific community.

The meeting opened with the Partnering Project Representatives, Julien Vezoli, Paul Verschure and the Alliance and Partnership Manager of EBRAINS, Marie-Elisabeth Colin, who welcomed the participants and introduced to them the types of EBRAINS support that they can leverage, as HBP is actively positioning its EBRAINS digital Research Infrastructure for a sustainable future.

The first day of the meeting was dedicated to Primate Brain Specifics, where during the Plenary Session, speakers from the topic-related Partnering Projects PrimCorNet, CORTICITY, Macaque Vision, MAC-Brain, and DOMINO presented the objectives, the collaborative efforts of the project partners, the results and the future directions of their project as well as their expectations from EBRAINS in further supporting their research. 

The Plenary Lecture on “Deep brain stimulation of the thalamus and the restoration of consciousness signatures in a non-human primate model” was given by the renowned Prof. of Medicine and Neurosurgeon, Béchir Jarraya, from CEA Paris-Saclay, Centre NeuroSpin, who underlined the potential that deep brain stimulation (DBS) holds in restoring wakefulness/awareness in patients with disorders of consciousness.

The plenary session and lecture were followed by the presentation on the Implementation of the EBRAINS NHP Atlas from Prof. Wim Vanduffel at KU Leuven, who invited the participants in constructive discussion on the features and the development of the tool.

Finally, day one concluded with interactive parallel sessions on the EBRAINS Atlas and Data & Knowledge services, with EBRAINS representatives answering practical questions formed by the participants and collecting feedback from users of the services.

On the second day, Prof. Jan Bjaalie from University of Oslo, explained how EBRAINS was created in 2019 from the HBP Joint Platform and how it is currently structured. He referred to scientific breakthroughs in the atlas and data & knowledge area that “would have not taken place without the support from EBRAINS services”. 

“Looking into the future”, was the main message of Steven Vermeulen, EBRAINS Chief Information Infrastructure Officer, who talked about the role of EBRAINS in successful consortia, the orientation of future EBRAINS projects and emphasized on the importance of the collaboration of the Partnering Projects community with EBRAINS in that direction.

Next, Roshan Cools, Prof. at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour with her plenary lecture “Chemistry of the adaptive mind: lessons from dopamine”, showcased her research that aims in building a prediction model of dopaminergic drug effects that would facilitate clinical decision-making for multiple psychiatric and neurological disorders.

Under the topic of Brain Circuits and Simulation, speakers from the Partnering Projects SENSEI, FIIND, DOPAMAP, NeuronsReunited, and MAPS presented, during the Plenary Session, the outcomes of their own scientific research and agreed on the importance of open science, clarity and transparency in data repositories as well as the need for adopting a "from the lab to the scientific community” culture abandoning the “scientific exclusivity”.

Amaryllis Raouzaiou from the Athena Research and Innovation Center explained the technical coordination activities during the transition from Human Brain Project to EBRAINS RI, showing to participants the pathways, they can follow to receive support but also inviting them to contribute with their feedback on the transition journey.

The day closed with parallel sessions on EBRAINS Brain modelling & Simulation and Massive Computing services where participants got to know about the features of the services and be presented several use cases.

Applied Brain Models

The final day of the meeting started with the Plenary Lecture of Mehdi Khamassi, from the Institute of Intelligent Systems and Robotics, who talked about the exploitation of information such as individual differences in the pavlovian auto-shaping to inform computational models of dopamine in reinforcement learning.

During the Plenary Session, the Partnering Projects MULTI-LATERAL, SMART BRAIN, CerebNEST, EMBRACE, TVB-CLOUD, RGS@HOME, and EXABRAINPREP & RoBoBrain that represent multidisciplinary research projects in the fields of robotics, ethics, applied research and brain simulation, talked about their project evolution, their scientific outcomes and shared the excitement for the future steps to be made.

Prof. Petra Ritter from Charité University Medicine in Berlin, in her closing Plenary Lecture, talked about the Enabling of Complex Simulations with Multilevel Health Data, showcasing the outcomes of the modelling of cognitive function in 650 virtual brains.

"We need to scale the collaboration through infrastructures like EBRAINS, as EBRAINS can be the fuel to bring us together, to use a common language, methods and concepts to understanding the brain,” said Paul Verschure. 
Steven Vermeulen added “After the HBP, EBRAINS will still not only comprise of services and tools, but also collaborations that we need to build together".

 “This is the message that we want to transmit to the Partnering Projects, through this event, that not only are they contributors, but they are essential for the future development of EBRAINS” said Julien Vezoli, leading this 3-day meeting to a closure.

For more information about the HBP Partnering Projects visit the dedicated webpage here. Presentation slides will be available on the workshop webpage here.