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Neuroinformatics for Healthcare Technologies

Neuroinformatics is an exciting new area of science. As the amount of data in the neurosciences increases, new tools for data storage and management are needed. These tools include cloud computing and workflows, as well as better descriptions of neuroscience data. In addition, available data can inform computer simulations of neural dynamics and development. Parallel computing and new algorithms are needed in order to run large-scale simulations. Although the field only started in 2002, there is high demand within academia as well as within industry involving healthcare informatics, brain-inspired computing, and brain-inspired hardware architectures.

Newcastle University

Figure 1: Fibre tract connections in the human brain reconstructed from magnetic resonance imaging.

Neuroinformatics is a key priority area of current research in the Neurosciences. Current project include, for example, the EU Human Brain Project and the US Human Connectome Project. However, dealing with neuroscience data is very challenging due to the variety of experimental setups and data formats which means that major obstacles for data mining still have to be overcome. This is particularly important for building large multi-scale models of the human brain that combine genetic, anatomical, and physiological information both at the local cellular and the global fibre tract connectivity level (see Figure 1). Such models are now being constructed both for clinical and basic biomedical research but also for developing neuromorphic microchips for the IT industry. Graduates with skills in this area are therefore in great demand in the healthcare sector, academia, and the microelectronics industry.

MSc in Neuroinformatics

Neuroinformatics @ Newcastle University covers a range of topics from electrophysiology to neuroimaging. We are among the pioneers in connectome analysis and the establishment of large-scale neuroscience data management and analysis platforms. Our strength is a close collaboration between computational, experimental, and clinical researchers. Besides academic research, we have strong ties with industry and many of us are linked to local start-up companies.

Newcastle is among the pioneers of the field in the UK and hosts the £5m CARMEN project for managing and processing electrophysiology data and the £10m CANDO optogenetics project for developing novel implantable devices for epilepsy patients. Neuroinformatics research is also carried out within our Wellcome Trust 4-year PhD programme in Systems Neuroscience. Newcastle has strong links with the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility (INCF). Currently, members of the faculty lead the data-sharing special interest group and the UK special interest groups in image-based Neuroinformatics and brain connectivity.

This one year MSc Degree programme in Neuroinformatics will produce experts in Neuroinformatics with practical experience of exploiting this knowledge to solve problems in a range of application domains ranging from computing environments and data analysis to cutting-edge research. Concentrating on both theory and practice, it provides students with the flexibility to carry out challenging projects either at University and the University Hospital or within industry. Suitable for students with a Bachelor’s degree in the biomedical or physical sciences, this course prepares graduates to pursue careers as developers, architects, data scientists or project managers or to undertake research. The course commences in the middle of September and lasts for 12 months. It is also possible for students to take the degree part-time over two years.

Funding/Scholarship Opportunities

All international students who accept the offer by July 2014 will receive £1000 following registration.

Further information about scholarships and funding opportunities can be found on our scholarships database at: www.ncl.ac.uk/postgraduate/funding

For further information about Neuroinformatics @ Newcastle University, please contact Dr Marcus Kaiser (marcus.kaiser@ncl.ac.uk) and visit http://research.ncl.ac.uk/neuroinformatics/.

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