Expanding Theories of Brain Circuits Using Knowledge Integration

Institute or Center: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), one of 10 entities supporting the NIH Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative

Project: Expanding Theories of Brain Circuits Using Knowledge Integration

Skills sought:

  • understanding of data science, computer science, systems engineering theory, control systems theory, signal and information theory, mathematics, and statistics.
  • knowledgeable in mechanistic, multiscale modeling of dynamical systems.
  • ability to communicate with niche audiences (neuroscientists with various backgrounds)
  • ability to initiate and implement new ideas.
  • familiarity with one or more of the following programming languages and computing platforms: R, Python, TensorFlow, Jupyter Notebook).

About the position: The BRAIN Initiative seeks a data scientist to join its team to solve knowledge integration challenges and develop the BRAIN initiative Workspace to ORganize the Knowledge Space (BRAIN WORKS) platform.

The Scholar will serve a critical role in working with brain circuit research teams to curate theories and models of the brain into existing knowledge extraction platforms to address the following knowledge integration challenges:

  • Model integration: to link theoretical constructs, model parameters, and model uncertainty.
  • Data integration: to link heterogeneous data and disparate knowledge.
  • Data imputation: to address data sparsity and uncertainty.
  • Model simulation and data visualization: to unveil the hidden rules governing dynamical systems. 

The DATA Scholar will use existing federal government programs developing artificial intelligence (AI) platforms for automating manual processes for knowledge discovery, curation, and application. These platforms can

  • interpret scientific knowledge and expose assumptions in existing model code and documentation.
  • identify new data and information resources automatically.
  • extract and integrate useful information into machine-curated expert models.
  • execute models in robust ways.

The Scholar will apply the latest AI methods to neuroscience models and data to potentially change the legacy of the BRAIN initiative. 

About the work: Since its inception in 2013, the NIH BRAIN initiative has provided over $1 billion in funding for more than 500 projects to develop new technologies and tools to image, simulate, record, and manage data and to analyze complex signals from multiscale brain circuits. BRAIN is embarking on its second phase with a key goal of seeking high-level theories of the brain that can unify the many diverse phenomena currently studied by neuroscientists (e.g., vision, memory, decision-making).

There are many competing models of brain function across research groups, but there is a significant lack of integrated theories to explain basic findings through to cures. Discovering the governing equations that explain mechanisms of a complex system is a central challenge. With plentiful data and elusive brain-behavioral physical laws, the DATA Scholar will explore novel approaches to facilitate the discovery of comprehensive brain theories through knowledge integration.

Datasets involved:

  • data from BRAIN-funded projects examining brain circuits at various spatial and temporal scales, in a variety of species, under unique mental and behavioral paradigms, using multiple theoretical constructs to build testable hypotheses.
  • a variety of models and data from literature describing high-resolution, large-scale, multi-modal, multiscale recordings of neuronal activity collected during complex behaviors and/or causal manipulations.

Why this project matters: The creation of BRAIN WORKS will significantly impact the research culture of neuroscience. At the end of two years, the new platform will be used to accelerate knowledge integration of brain circuits to produce more comprehensive brain theories. These machine-generated theories will in turn offer potentially unique questions and testable hypotheses for the neuroscience community to use to further our understanding of how the brain works.

Work Location: Bethesda, MD

Work environment: The Scholar will work closely with a team that spans 10 NIH institutes and other BRAIN partners while interacting with a community of neuroscientists. The Scholar will have first-hand interaction with policymakers and cross-disciplinary scientists in a team-driven program to tackle the mysteries of the brain to benefit health.

To apply to this or other DATA Scholar positions, please see instructions here: datascience.nih.gov/data-scholars

This page last reviewed on March 23, 2023