Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham First Indian Universityto Partner with EU’s Human Brain Project

  • The purpose of the Human Brain Project is to better understand brain function and develop solutions to cure brain diseases
  • The MoU was signed between Amrita and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland for working together on the Project, in collaboration with University of Pavia in Italy and Aix-Marseille University in France
  • The development comes closely on the heels of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham launching the Amrita Mind Brain Center (AMBC) at its Amritapuri campus

February 18, 2021: Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham has become the first Indian University to partner with European Union’s Human Brain Project (HBP) that has 143 university institutes in Europe working together to better understand brain function and develop solutions to cure brain diseases. A MoU was signed between Amrita and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland for working together on the Project, in collaboration with the University of Pavia in Italy and Aix-Marseille University in France.

The development comes close on the heels of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham launching the Amrita Mind Brain Center (AMBC) at its Amritapuri campus in Kerala to strengthen fundamental research related to brain, cognition, computations and neuro-engineering. Led by Associate Professor Dr. Shyam Diwakar as its Director, the Center will develop new technologies to investigate brain function, dysfunction, and therapy.

Talking about the MoU, Dr. Shyam Diwakar, Associate Professor, Amrita School of Biotechnology, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, said: “Functional signals directed by MRI techniques are widely used in specialty hospitals to monitor brain activity non-invasively. However, to connect these signals to the underlying activity of brain cells or neurons has been a challenge. In a project called BOLDsim, which is a part of Human Brain Project’s voucher grant, we will develop a new computational tool for modeling functional signals in the brain using cellular data-driven models.”

The BOLDsim projectwill model special signals generated by brain activity, called the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signals, using cellular-level data available with the HBP’s Brain Simulation Platform as well as with the team of Prof. Egidio D’Angelo of University of Pavia in Italy. This model will be made freely available to neuroscience researchers and to the whole-brain simulator called ‘The Virtual Brain’ that is being developed at Aix-Marseille University, France. Modeling will allow experts a clearer look to understand how brain conditions manifest and to point changes in neural circuits during certain healthy or disease conditions as seen in patients. The HBP project will run until 2023, although its first-level stage is expected to be completed by October 2021.

Said Dr. Shyam Diwakar: “Neuroscientists often want to understand health and disease in the brain and spinal cord from both cellular and behavioral levels to correctly map how a disease affects a person. Since 2009, we at Amrita have been developing models of cerebellum and how its signals are affected during various conditions. We have been using experimental data and computer simulations to develop a better understanding of how the brain operates. The BOLDsimproject will enhance the usability of our computer models and scale a new dimension towards assessing brain health and disease. It will allow a new understanding of how the brain computes, in addition to being used as medical prediction models.”

Said Dr. Venkat Rangan, Vice-Chancellor, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham: “I am very happy that Amrita has become the first University in India to partner with EU’s Human Brain Project and will model a simulator for better understanding of brain conditions and brain function. Amrita is a research-intensive institution that has over the last 15 years established more than 180 collaborations with the top-500 world-ranked universities. This MoU will add a new dimension to our university’s cutting-edge neuroscience research.”

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Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham Signs MoU with Esri India to Set up Centre of Geospatial Excellence

The Centre would help develop specific skills and technical knowhow around geospatial technologies and latest toolkits like artificial intelligence, machine learning and Big Data Analytics
The MoU was inked during the International Symposium on Disaster Risk Reduction & Community Resilience held to mark the 16th anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunam

January 5, 2021: Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, ranked the 4th Best Overall University in India in NIRF 2020, has inked an MoU with Esri India, the market leader in Geospatial Information Systems, to establish a Centre of Geospatial Excellence on Spatial Analysis and Modeling with dedicated facilities for research, development and testing.

The Centre would promote development of specific skills and technical knowhow among academicians, students and the industry around geospatial technologies and latest toolkits like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and geospatial Big Data Analytics. It would conduct certificate and diploma courses, training programs and workshops, particularly around geospatial technology application areas to strengthen multi-hazard risk reduction and community resilience.

Talking about the MoU, Dr. Maneesha Sudheer, Dean of International Programs and UNESCO Chair on Sustainable Development and Innovation, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, said: “This partnership aims to enhance research and capacity development in Geoinformatics, Spatial Analytics, and Modelling. The collaborative initiatives will work towards sustainable development to address quality education (SDG 4), gender equality (SDG 5), sustainable communities (SDG 11), and climate action (SDG 13) by engaging faculty, bachelors, masters, and Ph.D. students. They will help enhance the existing curriculum and educational material, as well as develop new educational approaches for effective teaching and learning of sustainability initiatives using spatial geoinformatics.”

Added Agendra Kumar, President, Esri India: “Empowering the academic community with necessary tools and technologies needed for future-ready students and capacity building is one of our key priorities. Geospatial infrastructure is the core foundation of disaster-risk reduction, sustainability and resilience initiatives. Our collaboration with Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham will support various research initiatives and flagship programs such as Amrita Live-in-Labs for better sustainability and development.”

The MoU was inked during the International Symposium on Disaster Risk Reduction & Community Resilience that was jointly hosted by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (ESSO-INCOIS), Govt. of India, Esri India and Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. The event commemorated the 16th anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. The participants discussed the challenges faced and lessons learnt since that catastrophic event, and analysed India’s current preparedness in community resilience, governance and technological solutions to mitigate any future impact of tsunamis in India.

Dr. M. Rajeevan, Secretary, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences; Chairman, ESSO-INCOIS; and Chairman, Earth Commission, Government of India, said: “Even though we have advanced tsunami-warning systems today, there are many grey areas where we need to improve. We have to engage scientists and technology experts to improve decision support systems and last-mile connection with people.”

Added Dr. T. Srinivasa Kumar, Director, Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India: “With the state-of-the-art Tsunami Early Warning Centre at MoES-INCOIS, India is today much safer against the threat of tsunamis compared to 2004. However, challenges remain with respect to early warning and community response, especially for tsunamis triggered by non-seismic and near-source events. Strengthening SOPs of all constituent agencies and end-to-end tsunami early warning chains is also an important task.”

Dr. Maneesha Sudheer, Dean of International Programs and UNESCO Chair on Sustainable Development and Innovation, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, said, “The symposium served as a platform to integrate the last 16 years of advancements in science and technology to improve the rehabilitation and resilience of coastal communities. It stressed on scientific social responsibility to reduce risk and vulnerability factors by understanding the impact of tsunamis on coastal communities, using latest advances in monitoring and modeling of tsunamis, and coming up with a strategic framework to further advance India’s disaster preparedness and build sustainable and resilient communities.”

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