Mapping the human brain is no easy task. It’s estimated to contain billions of neurons and trillions of connections. Neuroscientists like Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Professor Partha Mitra are creating and employing new AI-based technology to help. Now, Mitra’s pioneering work has earned him a spot as one of the first recipients of the NIH’s BRAIN CONNECTS grant. The grant provides Mitra’s lab $5.1 million over five years.
BRAIN CONNECTS is a new program launched by the National Institutes of Health. It aims to support the development of research tools needed to gather, analyze, and share data on neural cells and circuits. The ultimate goal is to generate wiring diagrams that span the brain and are accessible to the entire scientific community. Compiling a better atlas of the brain may reveal new ways to treat and prevent neurological disorders. And this is exactly the kind of work Mitra has been planning over the last 10 years.
“Neural networks have caught the popular imagination,” Mitra says. “But we haven’t yet charted those networks at a single neuron level across human brains or closely related species. This project will take us closer to that goal of mapping yet uncharted vistas of knowledge about ourselves. It will have profound scientific, technological, and biomedical implications.”