What is the EPFL Blue Brain Project?
The EPFL Blue Brain Project is a Swiss National Research Infrastructure project, hosted by the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and supported and funded by the Swiss government (ETH Board).
First digital 3D atlas of every cell in the 737 regions in the mouse brain
Open source repositories and nine major libraries
Blue Brain has published over 230 papers and pre-prints in scientific journals
Registrations for BBP MOOCs
Public dissemination and outreach events in 2019
Employees from around the world
Blue Brain Press Releases and News
STEPS 4.0 towards large-scale biologically-relevant simulations
Simulating neurons down to the level of their biochemistry in order to understand their behavior and properties is a complex computational challenge. While small to the human eye, a neuron is a comparatively large object relative to its biochemical constituents. Yet, the overall behavior of a neuron depends on the specific composition and interactions at the molecular level that will control its electrical properties. It’s like aiming to fully describe a patch of forest down to the millimeter, recording the location and shape not only of each tree and each leaf, but of each grain of dirt. Even with high performance computing and ever increasing computing power, scientists still have to make uncomfortable compromises; phenomena that are random in nature are averaged out for ease of calculation, or only parts of a cell can be described with molecules and their interactions. Needing to choose between what is biologically relevant and what is able to be addressed, leads to significant loss of information and, often, relevance. Now, teams from the EPFL Blue Brain Project and from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, Japan (OIST) describe how they pushed the boundaries of simulating biochemical diffusion-reaction models to the scale of entire neurons. The new solution dramatically reduces the computer memory needed while maintaining similar or better performance, increasing overall scalability.
Pioneering Algebraic Topology in the Blue Brain Project
In the Spring of 2022, the EPFL Blue Brain Project announced in a paper published in Cell Reports that it had found a way to mathematically build the 3D tree-like geometries of neurons using algebraic topology. One of the main branches of pure mathematics, algebraic topology allowed Blue Brain to describe the geometrical shapes of neurons in a way that could be used to build their digital twins. This breakthrough opens the path to using computers to automatically build digital copies of any of the thousands of different types of neurons found in the brain. The study, led by Blue Brain’s Neuromathematics Leader Lida Kanari and EPFL Professor Kathryn Hess of the Laboratory for Topology and Neuroscience, was the latest in a series of Blue Brain studies where algebraic topology helped tackle and solve a wide range of previously intractable neuroscience problems.
Neuron Phenotype Ontology – classifying the brain's building blocks
As the study of neuroscience accelerates ever faster and our understanding of the intricate workings of the brain deepens, the need to define a standardized approach to naming neuron types has become imperative. As the building blocks of the brain, neurons are studied intensely with vast amounts of data being generated and shared. With this comes several challenges as there is more and more data to describe different cell types. Furthermore, the literature contains many neuron names that are commonly used and accepted, even when it is unclear how such common usage types relate to the many proposed evidence-based types that are based on the results of new techniques. In addition, there is the significant question of comparing different data sets across labs. This all points to an urgent need for a standardized approach to naming neurons and for the organization of knowledge about their properties.
Blue Brain Portal
The Blue Brain Portal is a knowledge space for neuroscientists. EPFL’s Blue Brain Project recognizes that knowledge sharing is an important driving force to consolidate and promote simulation neuroscience, which in turn, is fundamental to understanding the brain as a complex multi-scale system. Therefore, the Blue Brain Portal brings together in one place open-sourced software, tools, models and data, both from us and our collaborators. The aim is for this knowledge to be utilized by both the neuroscientific and the wider scientific community to develop the field of simulation neuroscience.
Join Blue Brain’s journey to digitally reconstruct and simulate the brain.