Europe's brain project plans grant incentives to encourage data sharing

The Human Brain Project faces huge technical challenges in its mission to build a full simulation of the brain, with the computers the European team needs not expected to even exist until 2019. Before the technology arrives, the project is dealing with a more mundane, but equally important, task: getting researchers to share their data.

Neuroscientists working on the project plan to gather all the scientific data on the brain they can find and use it to create models that run on an exascale computer, the power of which will dwarf today's supercomputers. The last step in this process is dependent on manufacturers developing exascale computers--the first are set to arrive in 2019, with the brain project due to buy one in 2023--but the data gathering can start now. Getting data from researchers can be tough, but Sean Hill, co-leader of the project's neuroinformatics research, told Bloomberg he has an idea about encouraging openness.

Hill and his colleagues are devising a scoring system that would reward groups that share their data with extra grant money. Tying the sharing of data with the scientific community to cash could prove to be a tempting carrot for academics on the grant proposal writing treadmill. If the idea succeeds, the brain project will have the basic building blocks of its ambitious plan. By combining the blocks with $1.6 billion, Europe's top neuroscience talent and the latest in computing, the team hopes to unravel some of the mysteries of the brain.

"We know a lot about genetics and a lot about high-level cognitive processes. What we're missing is the link between the two. How do you go from genes to behavior? That's the huge challenge," Hill said.

- read the Bloomberg article