Human Brain Project

Foto: Magnetic resonance imaging

One of the great mysteries of science if the human brain. The last seven years the Human Brain Project (HBP) has worked on the exploration of the brain. Scientists within IT, software, biology, and neuroscience each contributes with their expertise in this exploration, to help further the understanding of the human brain. Furthermore, this research into the human brain can also be used to accelerate computer science and artificial intelligence.

 

Collaboration across fields

To fulfil this ambition, there is a need to create collaboration and synergy between the very different fields of science involved in the HBP. Furthermore, it is important that the development of new technology is being done in agreement with ethical and societal principles. Therefore, a need to ensure Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) within the HBP is a high priority. Read more on RRI within H2020 here: https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en/h2020-section/responsible-research-innovation

 

Our part in the big brain project

During the next years the Danish Board of Technology Foundation (DBT) will lead the work package on RRI within the HBP and lead the task on Inclusive Community Building for the European research infrastructure EBRAINS. The goal of the last phase of the HBP is to produce the groundwork that will allow EBRAINS to be a central research infrastructure within neuroscience for the EU and the world. In spring 2020 the HBP entered the last three-year stage of the project, which in 2023 will have been going on for 10 years. Since 2013 the HBP has sought to bring scientist from all over Europe together to create the foundation of modern Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The ambition is that ICT will drive the integration of data and science from different disciplines, while catalyzing a community. A cross-discipline community that can create a new understanding of the brain, new methods for understanding and treating brain disease, and develop new brain-inspired computer technologies.

 

The work with Ethics and Society

The DBT has since the beginning of the HBP been part of the Sub-Project ‘Ethics and Society’. Here, we have been involved in public engagement of citizens and stakeholders. Furthermore, we have been engaged in the coordination and management of the Ethics and Society group. This work will continue into the next and final phase of the HBP, under the new name ‘Responsible Research and Innovation’. This work package will be under the leadership and management of the DBT. The work package has a broad focus on ethics (including data- and neuroethics), gender and diversity, foresight, and public engagement. An important element is also to continue the establishment of collaborations on RRI, across international brain projects and networks.

Community Building

The DBT is also leading the task on Inclusive Community Building, which has the ambition of creating the foundation for an expanding and self-sustaining community around the EBRAINS research infrastructure. This work will ensure that a community is created across the scientific disciplines represented in the HBP, but also for external collaborators such as patient associations, clinicians, and industry. The goal of Community Building will be to create greater benefit for society, by ensuring that a broad range of stakeholders are being engaged in the infrastructure, its development and the research being conducted. This will allow for novel collaborations and more end-user directed research.

The DBT are active in ensuring the public engagement of citizens and stakeholders in the discussion of ethical and societal dilemmas that may arise from research within the HBP. The public engagement helps ensure that the society outside of the HBP may influence how research is being made according to RRI principles. Furthermore, public engagement also actively informs citizens and stakeholders on the potentials within brain research and sheds light on some of the dilemmas that may arise.

 

EBRAINS – a digital platform

The DBT will through our work on Inclusive Community Building help ensure that the last seven years work of the HBP can be sustained and developed through the EBRAINS research infrastructure. De highest ambition is to create the frame and foundation for a so-called ‘infrastructure of people’. This infrastructure will be made up by the community, which will have members that are using the scientific tools and data of EBRAINS, however it will also consists of stakeholders from e.g. industry, clinicians, patient associations and other associations, networks and fonds.

By creating a broad inclusive community, the science will be made more broadly available and new partnerships can be formed, which finally will be to the greater benefit of society.

 

The DBT will through the coordination of the Responsible Research and Innovation work package and the Inclusive Community Building task, actively contribute to the HBP and EBRAINS with our deep experience within RRI and engagement, and help ensure that science is being brought closer to the European citizens and stakeholders, to the benefit of society.

Read more: A new era in Brain Research – EBRAINS