At the end of January, I had my first business trip to Berlin joining the VirtualBrainCloud kick-off meeting. Find out more about my personal experiences.
When I started my job as a scientific coordinator at the INM-7 in October 2018, I got introduced to the EU funded project “VirtualBrainCloud”. The project’s content was already set up, however the administrative background (like the Consortium Agreement) still had to be finalized which was my duty. Quite impressive and scary at the same time to be thrown in at the deep end being responsible for a 15 million Euro project. Looking back, I’m really glad about this rather rough start of my job – always having in mind “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.
I learned about the ambitious aim of the project which is bridging the gap between computational neuroscience and subcellular systems biology to develop a cloud-based brain simulation platform that supports personalized diagnosis and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. To put it simply, a multitude of patients’ data is used as training data from which an algorithm builds a mathematical model that is able to abstract the data and extract patterns which are in turn applied to analyze new unseen data. In the end, the extracted information will be used to set up a decision-making platform which can be used by clinicians to enter data from individual patients and in turn gain information for making individual predictions about the course of the disease and personalized treatment options. Really ambitious as I already said.
Two weeks ago, the VirtualBrainCloud kick-off meeting took place in Berlin at the Charité. It was my first business trip. Beforehand, I was a little nervous about getting to know our associates from the remaining 16 European partner institutes. However, during the dinner that we had as a social get-together the evening before the meeting, I learned quickly that everyone is really amiable and frankly. Enjoying a delicious dinner, we had the chance to exchange academic interests and specializations and discussed opportunities for enhancing mutual communication. Talking about free-time activities and family life Conversations about free-time activities and family life brightened up the atmosphere and made it clear to me once again that even high-ranking scientists are only human beings.
During the kick-off meeting on Friday, first the project as a whole including its vision, structure, objective and responsibilities was introduced by the coordinator Petra Ritter. After that, the work package leaders presented the respective work packages and their main role, tasks and challenges. Moreover, other important aspects like means of communication, data sharing and future meetings were discussed. All in all, the meeting was very beneficial for grasping the project’s composition and the individual contributions of each partner. I think that we all left Berlin motivated and full of enthusiasm and drive for action.