July 7 - Human Brain Project: Neuroscientists across Europe are raising a red flag

In an Open Letter to the European Commission (EC), neuroscientists express their concern about the current course of the Human Brain Project (HBP) and call for the EC to examine closely both the scientific policy and management of the HBP prior to its renewal.

The HBP was launched two years ago by the EC as a European “Future Emerging Technology Flagship.” The HBP leadership presented a bold vision of a large-scale collaborative project that will span over one hundred neuroscience and technology groups across the world, all working together towards understanding the human brain.

However, due to the projects’ narrow focus, the HBP has been highly controversial and divisive within the European neuroscience community and even within the consortium, resulting in on-going losses of members.

A formal review of the HBP is now scheduled to evaluate the success of the project’s ramp-up phase and the plan for the next phase. At stake is funding on the order of 50M€ per year European Commission for the “core project” and 50M€ in “partnering projects” provided largely by the European member states’ funding bodies.

Many international neuroscientists, including both HBP members and non-members are now calling for this review to be performed in a very critical manner. “We want the public and the government to know that we believe collaborative research in neuroscience can yield great benefits to human well-being but that the Human Brain Project does not provide what is needed to achieve that.”, explains Zachary Mainen, HBP member and Director of the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme, in Lisbon, Portugal.

Neuroscientists composed an open letter that describes both their support of this project and their concern about the course it is taking under the current management. In this letter, they recommend certain criteria to be taken in order to insure the future success of the project. “If we don't wake up and address this situation by insisting on transparent, accountable and representative structures to support large-scale research efforts then we will fail to reach our goals and compromise the legacy that we might have achieved.”, concludes Mainen.

In the event that the EC is unable to adopt the recommendations proposed in the Open Letter, the undersigned pledge not to apply for HBP partnering projects and will urge other scientists to join them in this commitment.

For more information, visit the website: http://neurofuture.eu/

 

Media Contacts:

Zachary Mainen | +351 210 480 100 | zmainen@neuro.fchampalimaud.org 

Alexandre Pouget | +41 22 379 4699 | alex.pouget@gmail.com