New report from International Brain Initiative workshop outlines future of collaborative science

Mouse brain slice with bright green neurons.

European Parliament hosted leaders from the International Brain Initiative this fall to discuss strategies that foster collaborative science across borders. A newly published report summarizes key takeaways.

Leaders from the International Brain Initiative (IBI)—of which BRAIN is a part—recently convened to discuss their efforts toward building neuroscience, neuroethics, data policy, and dissemination collaborations on a global scale.

A previous BRAIN Blog post shared the details of the interactive workshop hosted by the European Parliament's Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) on October 12, 2021, where researchers and representatives alike focused on opportunities and challenges inherent to coordination across continents. They also discussed the value of the IBI as an international forum to drive discovery and innovation, while recognizing the cultural and demographic priorities of participating countries. A recently published summary of insights from workshop participants is now available in Lancet Neurology.

Data sharing took center stage as workshop participants emphasized the importance of data standardization and protection. They discussed merits of current standards for sharing data and the computational power required to store and manage large datasets.

Participants recommended building on existing database infrastructure within the seven major brain research initiatives[i] that have formed in the past decade. This includes training opportunities for young data scientists, which while available within individual entities, can be difficult to translate across borders. Additionally, the authors noted that variations in data sharing laws can hamper intercontinental operability.

The workshop also launched conversations around science and policy. Policymakers were sensitive to the oversimplification that science typically aims to answer questions, rather than recommend specific actions. They noted it is incumbent on scientists to familiarize themselves with the political process to communicate their priorities effectively. Participants cited several examples of successful dialogue between scientists and policymakers, including the work of the STOA.

Learn more about the workshop by reading the written summary.

[i] Australian Brain Alliance, Canadian Brain Research Strategy, China Brain Project, EU Human Brain Project, Japan Brain/MINDS Project, Korea Brain Initiative, and US BRAIN Initiative.