Indian national node meeting report 2011


Indian national node meeting was held at NBRC, Manesar on 1 November 2011.

Node members present:
Rohit Manchanda, IIT Bombay
Kaushik Mazumdar, ISI Bangalore
Prasun Roy, NBRC Manesar
Pravat Mandal, NBRC Manesar
BSS Rao, NIMHANS Bangalore
Rishikesh Narayan, IISc Bangalore
Govindan Rangajan, IISc Bangalore
Upinder S. Bhalla, NCBS Bangalore
Sitabhra Sinha, MatSci, Chennai
Srinivas Chakravarty, IIT Madras
Chaitanya Athale, IISER Pune
Sumitra Purkayastha, ISI Kolkata
P.S. Mathuranath, SCTIMST, Trivandrum

Guest attendee:
David Shattuck, UCLA, Los Angeles, USA.

Overview of INNNI and INCF background and goals
Overview of node meeting goals
Overview of INCF Introductory workshop on Neuroinformatics
Overview of funding support from the DBT, and other agencies.
Node member introduction and outline of neuroinformatics related work in each institution and in participating labs in particular.
Each of the node members outlined work in their groups and at their institutions. Dr. Sumitra Purkayastha of ISI Kolkata gave a brief  presentation of his work with an emphasis on neuroimaging. He specially made the points that (a) We do have the expertise, including people having fair amount of knowledge and understanding in related quantitative work, for pursuing neuroimaging, and (b) We have scanners in different parts of the country, and data also are being generated. Other members also felt that there were good possibilities for India to combine its computer and statistical expertise with neuroimaging.

1.Plan for next INCF workshop in India.
The expectations and commitments for such a workshop were spelt out. Considerable discussion followed on suitable formats and content. Workshop reports from various past workshops were passed around and considered. There was substantial interest in the potential for such workshops given the international expertise that it would bring to the host institutions in terms of selected areas of neuroinformatics. Node members also discussed the possibility of having visiting scientists at the workshop being invited to visit other institutions, specially from node members, during their India trip. Dates were considered and it seemed that early November 2012 would be a good time as it would be after the SfN meeting.
It was understood that the plan would again be to have an INNNI node meeting, followed directly by the INCF workshop.
There was also significant interest in broadening the participation in such a workshop, as it was felt that it would make a very good introduction to the field for younger scientists. Past workshop models were discussed, including an initial open symposium, followed by a closed workshop on a specific technical topic for Neuroinformatics. The details of this were felt to be best left to the organizers.
After a good discussion, Dr. Sitabhra Sinha (Mathematical Sciences, Chennai) and Dr. Srinivasa Chakravarthy, IIT Madras, Chennai) were keen to host the next INCF workshop in India. The theme will be fine-tuned in the coming few weeks and run by the INCF directorate to see how it would fit with other activities during that period.

2.Plan for reviving the annual computational neuroscience course
It was generally agreed that the computational neuroscience course that had run annually for ten or so years had been popular and attractive, and had brought the topic to the attention of many young scientists. The group discussed ways of reviving this course. One suggestion was to extend the scope to include topics in neuroinformatics such as imaging and data analysis.After some thought, it was felt that it would be asking too much of the organizers of the workshop to have to club the course with it. Dr. Kaushik Mazumdar of ISI Bangalore offered to host the course in summer 2012, with an emphasis on statistical and analysis methods specially targeted towards MRI and image analysis. This was enthusiastically supported by many node members who felt that this emphasis would interest engineers as well as medical students. It was also suggested that imaging companies, such as GE and Siemens, would be interested in sponsoring such a course and providing instructors.

3.Summer students and interns.
There was a brief discussion on how to introduce summer students to neuroinformatics, by having the INNNI representatives suggest this to the Indian Academy of Sciences as a worthwhile track for summer students. It would be nice to have this tied to a short introductory course. However, the idea was not taken much further.

4.Publicising neuroinformatics
Node members were encouraged to write a brief paragraph about their work to post on the INNNI page.
It was also suggested that there be an open invitation on the node page for member institutions to join.
The Young Investigators meeting is an annual meeting of scientists considering working in India. This was seen as a good forum in which to promote the activities under the INNNI umbrella, to make it clear that there was already significant activity in the area.
The IndiaBioScience portal was mentioned as a good place to use to publicise INNNI, neuroinformatics, and neuroscience activities in general.

5.Brain as a Tissue project
Dr. Prasun Roy of NBRC gave the group and introduction to the efforts under this project. The group has mobilized several collaborators and has grants in progress. He agreed to provide content for the INNNI web page to highlight this as one of the key efforts of the Indian node.

6.Multiscale modeling project
Dr. U.S. Bhalla of NCBS introduced the group to the efforts in this project. He mentioned the MOOSE project. This led to some discussion about other multiscale modeling efforts, including the Blue Brain project and the recent European brain modeling proposal. There was a timely interjection by Dr. Srinivasa Chakravarty who suggested some specific projects undertaken by individual groups around the country, who could fill in specific aspects of a project to look at motor control from sensory input to movement. This was felt to be a good way to proceed. Again, content will be provided for the INNNI web page.

With this the Node workshop was closed with thanks to the organizer, Dr. Pravat Mandal from NBRC.