IIT-Madras sets up centre to study human brain

Institute’s students to be trained at the centre on cutting edge brain data

Updated - March 22, 2022 04:28 am IST

Published - March 22, 2022 12:23 am IST - CHENNAI:

Digital illustration used for representational purposes only. File

Digital illustration used for representational purposes only. File | Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Indian Institute of Technology Madras has launched a centre to generate and study human brain data. The centre plans to focus on high-resolution brain imaging and has an ambitious project to map human brain at the cellular and connectivity level.

The clinical partners for the project are medical teams led by three doctors — George Varghese of CMC Vellore; Anita Mahadevan of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Science, and J. Kumutha of Saveetha Medical College Hospital. The centre would be headed by Mohanasankar Sivaprakasam of IIT Madras.

K. VijayRaghavan, principal scientific advisor, IIT Madras director V. Kamakoti, and the institute’s distinguished alumnus Kris Gopalakrishnan and Sudha Gopalakrishnan, who support the centre, participated.

Undergraduate and postgraduate students of the Institute would be trained on cutting-edge tech in neuroscience and computing, and machine learning techniques.

The institute has international collaboration network in brain mapping efforts in the U.S., the EU and Japan. The centre has six internationally renowned faculty as visiting professors at the institute. Mr. VijayRaghavan said the brain centre would help solve complex data that would benefit the world.

The centre’s ongoing project “Computational and experimental platform for high-resolution terapixel imaging of ex-vivo human brains” for high-throughput light microscopic imaging of the human brain is supported by the Principal Scientific Advisor’s office.

The centre is imaging post-mortem human brains of different types and ages. Mr. Mohanasankar said the strong medical collaborations and the technology platform developed by the institute allowed the centre to generate high-resolution and large-format histology sections of human brains.

Partha Mitra, professor in Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and a visiting chair professor at the institute, said the 3D digital neuroanatomy of the postmortem human brain with cellular resolution was a field with great potential for scientific discovery and for understanding of neurological disorders.

“The unique data sets being generated here promise to be widely impactful through open sharing with an international research community,” he said.

Dr. Varghese said the brain research centre had a huge potential in solving some major medical issues. “The research work undertaken at the centre will help in bringing different outcomes for patients. This unusual combination of science and technology with medicine is the way to go forward,” he said.

Mr. VijayRaghavan inaugurated the AquaMAP centre for water management and policy on the same day.

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