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Reacting to researchers


European Commission defends Human Brain Project




The European Commission has responded to criticism from 150 European Union scientists over the Swiss-led Human Brain Project, stating it is confident that an ongoing evaluation of the project will properly address their concerns.

Earlier this month, the group of EU researchers labelled the Human Brain Project as badly organised and said it was too narrowly concentrated on brain simulation. More than 600 researchers have since signed the letter.

“As a public authority for research, we take all such signals seriously,” said Robert Madelin, who is responsible for the European Commission’s digital agenda. “We welcome the debate.”

“The exact orientation of the Human Brain Project is part of the project itself,” the commission’s statement added.

The Human Brain Project, a European Commission “flagship” project with a budget of €1.2 million led by the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, seeks to develop a technological platform to simulate the brain’s activities. The platform would then serve as a sort of experimental laboratory for brain research.

The project is currently being evaluated for additional funding from the EU’s “Horizon 2020” programme, a process which will result in recommendations of how to manage the central Human Brain Project as well as some 18 partner projects stemming from it that receive additional support from partner countries.

Madelin added in his European Commission evaluation that each of these partner projects is crucial to the whole and expressed confidence that the Human Brain Project and the European Commission would continue to work together with partner scientists.

“Building such a groundbreaking project is not an easy task,” the European Commission concluded, adding that all researchers would have to play a part in rising to the challenge.

swissinfo.ch and agencies