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January 28, 2013 6:44 pm

EU Commission Pledges More Than 1 Billion Euros to Brain Project Israeli Scientists Are Participating In

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Scan of the human brain. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The European Union has selected the Human Brain Project, in which the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is participating, as one of two Future and Emerging Technologies “Flagship” topics, and has pledged more than 1 billion euros over the next decade to the project.

A major purpose of the project is to collate information about the brain from various advanced research approaches and make it possible to build models of brain activity through the use of powerful supercomputers. This will enable the attainment of a deeper understanding of the brain and its illnesses, and at the same time make possible development of powerful computer technologies and brain-driven robotics.

More than 80 universities and research institutions in Europe and the world will be involved in the project over the next dacade.  The project will be centered at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, headed by Prof. Henry Markram, an Israeli who was recruited ten years ago to the EPFL.

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Participating from Israel will a team of eight scientists, led by Prof. Idan Segev of the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences (ELSC) at the Hebrew University, Prof. Yadin Dudai of the Weizmann Institute of Science, and Dr. Mira Marcus-Kalish of Tel Aviv University.

The announcement elicited congratulations from Israeli President Shimon Peres.

“Israel has put brain research at the heart of its efforts for the coming decade, and our country is already spearheading the global effort towards the betterment of our understanding of mankind. I am confident that the forthcoming discoveries will benefit a wide range of domains, from health to industry, as well as our society as a whole,” Peres said.

“The human brain is the most complex and amazing structure in the universe, yet we are very far from understanding it. In a way, we are strangers to ourselves. Unraveling the mysteries of the brain will help us understand our functioning, our choices, and ultimately ourselves. I congratulate the European Commission for its vision in selecting the Human Brain Project as a Flagship Mission for the forthcoming decade,” said Peres.

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