King's College London is part of an international consortium of scientists who have today been awarded a grant of over one billion euros, over ten years, to simulate 'everything we know about the human brain' in supercomputers.
The Department of Social Science, Health and Medicine at King's is a partner in the Human Brain Project (HBP), a venture that brings together dozens of groups of neuroscientists from many countries in Europe, alongside partners in the USA, Canada, Israel and China. Led by Henry Markram of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology at Lausanne, the aim is to simulate the human brain in a supercomputer, stimulating the development of neuromorphic computing and facilitating medical advances in brain disorders and treatments.
Nikolas Rose, Professor of Sociology and Head of the Department of Social Science, Health and Medicine (SSHM) at King's, said: 'This tremendously exciting project, involving leading neuroscientists from across Europe, promises to transform our ability to understand the human brain and to link basic research with new understandings and treatments of diseases and disorders of the brain.
'It is very exciting for social scientists to be involved from the outset, helping embed responsible research and innovation into the project and exploring the social implications of the HBP as it progresses. We are greatly looking forward to the hard work over the next years to turn this idea into a reality.'
The Department at King's will receive around €0.5 million in the so called 'ramp-up phase' – the first 30 months – to develop a 'Foresight Laboratory' which will undertake a systematic foresight initiative, using a spectrum of research methods, to provide a series of visions of how the scientific and technological advancement understandings of the human brain achieved via the HBP may impact on our societies over the next 20 years and to feed these back into the work of the HBP.
SSHM is a partner in the Social and Ethical Division of the HBP which is led from the Pasteur Institute in Paris by Professor Jean-Pierre Changeux. The division will be allocated around €2.5 million over this ramp up period, spread across six work packages.
The HBP is one of the two 'Future and Emerging Technology Projects' selected by the European Commission from a shortlist of six projects. The Future and Emerging Technologies Flagship competition was launched in 2009 as a challenge to apply information and communication technologies to social problems.
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Notes to editors:
For further information about the Human Brain Project visit: http://www.humanbrainproject.eu/
For images and b-roll footage relating to the project visit: https://documents.epfl.ch/groups/h/hb/hbp-mediabox/www/
About King's College London (www.kcl.ac.uk) King's College London is one of the top 30 universities in the world (2012/13 QS international world rankings), and was The Sunday Times 'University of the Year 2010/11', and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King's has more than 24,000 students (of whom more than 10,000 are graduate students) from nearly 140 countries, and more than 6,100 employees. King's is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.
King's has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise for British universities, 23 departments were ranked in the top quartile of British universities; over half of our academic staff work in departments that are in the top 10 per cent in the UK in their field and can thus be classed as world leading. The College is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of nearly £525 million (year ending 31 July 2011).
King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, the sciences (including a wide range of health areas such as psychiatry, medicine, nursing and dentistry) and social sciences including international affairs. It has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar.
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