HIBALL set up around the BigBrain project as a driver to develop new tools and services in AI, atlasing, modelling, and simulation. We are proud of our successful collaboration, which was formalized three years ago as a Helmholtz International Lab. It is characterized by lively and fruitful interaction between partners that has led to significant advances in research and an impressive list of new tools and services for the international research community. The initial core consortium has grown into a well-connected community with international visibility and many new partners and collaborators from all over the world.
The community around HIBALL is constantly growing, reflected by new research collaborations (such as the Digital Technologies at National Research Council Canada (NRC) and the Centre de Recherche Interdisciplinaire, Paris, France), a broad participation in HIBALL meetings, several requests to join the consortium (such as researchers from the Joint China-Cuba Collaboratory for Translational Neuroscience and the Cuban Neuroscience Center), and finally, an average of about 1000 visitors per month on the website and more than 1000 followers of the BigBrainProject account on Twitter.
HIBALL gained international visibility at the highest level through visits of the German Minister of Education and Research at MCIN and the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) in June 2022, and the visit of the German Chancellor and Canadian Prime Minister at MILA in August 2022. In 2022 Katrin Amunts and Alan Evans presented HIBALL at the visit of the Helmholtz Delegation in Montreal.
In the last three years HIBALL researchers received a range of awards recognizing fundamental contributions to neuroscience, neuroinformatics, and society. Katrin Amunts was presented with the Cross of Merit 1st Class of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2022 for her outstanding contributions to the field of neuroscience; she also received the Hector Science Award for her outstanding research achievements, dedication to the education and support of young scientists, and contributions to advancing their disciplines and institutions. Katrin Amunts was also listed among the ‘Top 10 women in Life Science today’ in 2021. Alan Evans received the RSC McLaughlin Medal in 2021 and the Killam Prize in 2020 for his contributions to the understanding of the human brain, fostering collaborative work in neuroscience and neuroinformatics, the latter. In 2022, Boris Bernhardt received the New Investigator Award from the Canadian Association for Neuroscience and the Ignite Grants Competition III in the HBHL Neuro Commercialization Grants program. Markus Axer won the Helmholtz Imaging Best Scientific Image Contest 2021, for a remarkable and beautiful measurement of the fibre architecture in the cerebellum of a vervet monkey. Justine Hansen was awarded the Quebec Brain Imaging Network (QBIN) Open Science Prize and the Irv and Helga Cooper Foundation Open Science Award in 2022.
HIBALL’s scientific progress is shown in about 60 publications (peer-reviewed and preprints) and about 80 openly available datasets around the BigBrain.