Human Brain Project: first assessment, recommendations and challenges ahead.

The Commission held the first annual review meeting of the Human Brain Project (HBP) assisted by 19 independent experts, last week, in Brussels. As announced back in September 2014, the aim of the review was to assess the work of HBP in its first year of activities against the current FP7 contract. The review covered the scientific and technological progress of the project as well as the Consortium's coordination, management and ethics-related activities.

During this 3-day review, the experts held in-depth discussions with the HBP Consortium in a constructive atmosphere. The experts confirmed that HBP is a very challenging and ambitious project driven by scientists having a clear vision of the way to reach the project goals and found that HBP achieved good scientific and technical progress over its first year of activities. In particular, they acknowledged that the ICT infrastructures and tools that HBP is developing will catalyse the way neuroscience research will be done in the near future. They also highlighted the importance of the project work in developing brain theories, cognitive architectures and the supporting brain experimental data. Both these activities will help the neuroscience and medical communities get an insight in the way the (human) brain works and brain diseases develop.

Following the experts' review findings, within the next few months the project will address three major challenges:

  1. Build a world-class experimental ICT infrastructure. The project must ensure a rigorous engineering approach in building the ICT platforms and to attract a large number of users who will help HBP co-design and validate the platforms. This is necessary for brain-related research and its wide use by the scientific communities.
  2. Integrate and link more. To better align and coordinate scientific and data-related activities with brain modelling and simulations; in particular, cognitive architectures and experiments are fundamental to provide essential knowledge and strategic data for top-down and bottom-up modelling and simulation of the brain and its functions.
  3. Visionary and creative work, but concrete results. To put in place a more efficient organisational structure and strengthen the communication and engagement with the scientific community and the public by developing clear messages based on concrete project expectations.

The experts have now finalised their detailed report. The main conclusions and recommendations of this report can be found here. These recommendations as well as the results from the project's ongoing mediation process will guide the implementation of the next steps of the FP7 project and the revision of the HBP Framework Partnership Agreement (FPA) proposal due later this year.

I wish good work to the HBP partners!

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