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INTPART-International Partnerships for Excellent Education and Research

Trans-Atlantic Consortium in Computational Neuroscience

Alternative title: US-Norwegian Partnership in Quantitative Neurobiology

Awarded: NOK 4.0 mill.

NeuroComp seeks to develop partnerships between leading scientists in Norway and California in the fields of neuroscience and computational biology. The complexity of the brain requires that similarly complex mathematical and computational techniques are developed to understand how we perceive, learn, and think about the world around us. These techniques can be used to improve how we perform and analyse experiments, and they allow us to use computers to simulate how certain populations of cells (neurons) act together to give us our sensations and vision, or allow us to acquire memories. In many types of disease, and even in normal processes such as ageing, these behaviours are altered. As such, mathematical and computational methods are key for understanding how genetics, environmental factors, and even certain drugs interact to impact the function of the brain and how they might be used to improve outcomes in mental health and disease. With NeuroComp we combine expertise in medicine, biology, computer science and mathematics to generate new mathematical and computational tools for these purposes. We provide opportunities for young scientists and senior researchers at the University of Oslo (UiO), University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and Simula Research Laboratory (Simula) to interact frequently and in a way that is specific to the research problems in neurobiology and psychology they are working together to solve. Additionally, NeuroComp has been a central component funding positions for neurobiologists in a summer school in computational physiology conducted between Simula and UCSD in 2016, 2017 and 2018. This school covers material central to NeuroComp, and exposes Norwegian students to world-leading international researchers in a strongly multidisciplinary environment. Tools developed by the groups are shared, showcased, and demonstrated through the school.

The primary objective of this project was to build an internationally recognized collaboration in neuroscience and multiscale electrophysiology between Simula, UiO, and UCSD. These desired outcomes were achieved within two areas: education and research. The funding has been used to: (1) support travel of Norwegian researchers to UCSD, (2) fund expenses associated with our summer school in computational electrophysiology, and (3) support a 2-day workshop for NeuroComp investigators and trainees at UCSD. In the reporting period this has amounted to 10 individual exchange visits to the USA and 1 to Norway. The work conducted in these visits has contributed to at least 10 published articles or book chapters, supported dissemination of these findings at major international conferences in the USA, and yielded new computational tools associated neurophysiology. We have also strengthened and developed collaborations between world-class investigators which will continue in the coming years.

NeuroComp seeks to advance research and education in computational neuroscience through developing collaborations between the University of Oslo (UiO), Simula, and the University of California San Diego. Scientifically, NeuroComp specifically focuses on developing methods and software for (1) analyzing large scale or complex experimental data; (2) development, distribution and standardisation of multiphysics models in neurobiology. To achieve these goals we have assembled a world-class group of investigators. At UiO, Drs. Marianne Fyhn, Gaute Einevoll, and Anders Malthe-Sørenssen represent the Center for Neural Plasticity (CINPLA). CINPLA is an initiative for multidisciplinary PhD training and research in neuroscience, and is led by Drs. Fyhn and Einevoll, both of whom are internationally renowned investigators. At Simula, the Center for Computational Biomedicine (CBC, a center of excellence) including Drs. Andy Edwards, Kyrre Lekve, and Aslak Tveito will support the neurophysiological expertise of CINPLA and provide a home for NeuroComp. They will also deliver extensive experience in computational and experimental electrophysiology, and implementation, distribution and standardisation of software in computational multiphysics. At UCSD, Drs. Anna Devor, Anders Dale, Jill and Stefan Leutgeb, and Andrew McCulloch, cover experimental expertise from the cellular to whole-brain level, and computational modeling from single proteins to whole-organ electrophysiology. Together this constitutes a truly world leading group in neuroscience and electrophysiology. NeuroComp will support an annual Summer School (primarily educational), as well as broad mobility for investigators and students. All of these activities is highly consistent with the goals of INTPART, and importantly, they will also directly add value to the existing doctoral training programs at UiO (CINPLA) and SIMULA (SUURPh, see full project description)

Funding scheme:

INTPART-International Partnerships for Excellent Education and Research