Long-term scientific programs: US BRAIN Initiative® and EU Human Brain Project

LENS and Bioretics participate in the US long-term scientific program “The BRAIN Initiative®: A Scientific Vision”, which details seven high-priority research areas and calls for a sustained USA federal commitment of $4.5 billion over 12 years.

Bioretics helps LENS in analysing data from the European Human Brain Project, a European Commission Future and Emerging Technologies Flagship.

The overarching goal of The BRAIN Initiative® is to ultimately generate reference atlases of brain cells from human and/or non-human primate brain samples.

The Human Brain Project aims to put in place a cutting-edge research infrastructure that will allow scientific and industrial researchers to advance our knowledge in the fields of neuroscience, computing, and brain-related medicine

The expected outcomes of The BRAIN Initiative® include:

  • fundamental knowledge on diverse cell types and their three dimensional organizational logic in the brain;
  • validated high throughput and low cost approaches to characterizing cell diversity in human and/or non-human primate brain samples.

Lens and Bioretics contribute to The BRAIN Initiative® through imaging and analysis techniques to construct a cell census atlas of the human brain.

Deciphering brain architecture at a system level requires the ability to quantitatively map its structure with cellular and sub-cellular resolution. Besides posing significant challenges to current optical microscopy methods, this ambitious goal require the development of a new generation of tools, a new light-sheet microscope integrated by AI-based algorithms, to make sense of the huge amount of raw images generated, which can easily exceeds several TeraBytes for a single sample. ​

Novel real-time algorithms based on Bioretics ecosystem ALIQUIS® allow the on-the-fly image interpretation from a collection of raw pixels to a semantic representation of the sample. ​

Automated segmentation of neurons, glia, cortical areas and laminar boundaries will enable new and more specific types of analyses of neuroimaging data. In particular,the ability to probe cellular and laminar properties of specific cortical areas may provide significant advances in developmental disorders such as Alzheimer's, autism, schizophrenia and dyslexia.

Reference: The BRAIN Initiative® A Scientific Vision, (https://www.braininitiative.nih.gov/strategic-planning/brain-2025-report)​

Entities involved in the project:

  • NIMH (NIH) US National Institute of Mental Health (www.nimh.nih.gov)
  • Massachusset General Hospital (www.massgeneral.org)
  • Harvard University (www.harvard.edu)
  • Boston University (www.bu.edu)
  • Icahn School of Medicine Mount Sinai Hospital (icahn.mssm.edu)
  • L.E.N.S. (www.lens.unifi.it)
  • Bioretics srl (www.bioretics.com)