MALAYSIA JOINS THE INTERNATIONAL NEUROINFORMATICS COORDINATING FACILITY (INCF), HOSTED BY UNIVERSITI TEKNOLOGI PETRONAS
Kuala Lumpur, 9 October 2015 – Malaysia has joined the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility (INCF), an international organization that coordinates neuroinformatics research worldwide and facilitates data sharing and computing resources for neuroscience. INCF was created through the Global Science Forum, after endorsement by science ministers of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2004. The INCF community comprises of national nodes from 18 member countries including USA, UK, Japan, France, Belgium, Switzerland and a secretariat based at the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
The INCF Malaysia Node was launched today by Deputy Minister of Higher Education (MOHE), Datuk Mary Yap Kain Ching at Le Meridien, Kuala Lumpur. Also present at the launch were Executive Director of INCF, Dr. Linda Lanyon, Vice Chancellor of Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS, Datuk Ir. (Dr) Abdul Rahim Hashim, INCF Japan Node Head, Prof. Yoko Yamaguchi and representatives from INCF Australia, Hitachi Data Systems Hong Kong (HDS), Prince Court Medical Center (PCMC) and vice-chancellors from Malaysian universities.
The INCF Malaysia Node will be hosted by Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP) at the Center for Intelligent Signal & Imaging Research (CISIR). The Node was founded with strong support from researchers at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Malaya (UM) and the Malaysian Society of Neurosciences (MSN). CISIR was appointed in 2014 as 1 of 14 national Higher-Institution Center of Excellence (HI-CoE) by the Ministry of Higher Education with the mandate to pursue trans-disciplinary research at the intersection of neurosciences and biomedical signal and imaging. CISIR has been active in biomedical research since 2008 in partnership with a network of Malaysian and international collaborators from Japan, France and Germany.
INCF Malaysia Node Head, Prof Ir. Dr. Ahmad Fadzil Mohd Hani said, “Understanding the brain is one of the scientific grand challenges of our time. Neuroinformatics is a new approach to handling the complexity in brain studies. Biomedical engineers, computer scientists, mathematicians, data scientists, physicists, biomedical engineers, statisticians and clinicians work together to apply big data analytics (BDA) and computational neuroscience to extract insights from experimental studies by neuroscientists and geneticists. Neuroinformatics integrates information across all scales of the brain, from genes, cells to functional networks and behavior to develop a complete picture of the brain system.”
INCF Malaysia Node will kickoff with research projects to improve the outcomes of patients with brain trauma, dementia and epilepsy. This collaboration will involve doctors, neuropsychologists and engineers from Malaysia and will be part of a larger European Commission led study, CENTER-TBI. INCF will provide assistance through sharing of expertise in big data management and infrastructure, data standards, clinical protocols and will link Malaysia to global neuroscience experts from the Japan Brain/MINDS project and the European Human Brain Project.
Prof. Fadzil adds, “We want our research efforts to directly benefit a large segment of Malaysian society. This is why we chose brain trauma as our first project, as it is the 4th leading cause of death and contributes 11.37% of all Emergency Room cases in the country. Brain afflictions like trauma and dementia are a hidden epidemic – they have a debilitating impact on quality of life and cost us at least USD$4billion in economic losses but there is very poor awareness. Malaysian clinicians in brain sciences are well-respected globally for their competency and they are very keen to collaborate.”
On the future plans of INCF Malaysia Node, Prof Fadzil remarks, “We have to focus our research in these early stages to deliver outcomes that the Malaysian people and the Ministry can recognize. However, our vision is to contribute towards education and the creation of new knowledge and applied technologies in brain sciences. Neuroinformatics can be a platform to unite researchers in brain sciences and practitioners in brain health because these fields are ultimately data-driven. The need to integrate and analyze data from various studies and modalities is ever present and ascending in importance, be it in science for the development of new insights or in the clinic to prognosticate and assess patient outcomes. The INCF Malaysia Node can expand on the efforts of Malaysian neuroscience pioneers like MSN & USM, to bring in fresh insights and global partners.”
INCF Executive Director, Dr. Linda Lanyon said, “INCF is very pleased to welcome Malaysia as our newest member. We are very happy with the energy and enthusiasm in the Malaysia Node and look forward to fruitful collaborations”.
INCF is a non-profit international organization that coordinates the neuroinformatics research activity worldwide and facilitates the infrastructure for neuroscience data integration. The core organization of INCF consists of the Secretariat, the Governing Board and the National Nodes. The national nodes are established to coordinate neuroinformatics activity within a country and to provide a connection with the Secretariat to formulate and implement INCF Programs. The Secretariat, located in Stockholm Sweden, is the central office of INCF and is responsible for overall scientific and administrative activities.
INCF develops and maintains database and computational infrastructure for neuroscientists. Software tools and standards for the international community are being developed through the INCF Programs, which address infrastructural issues of high importance to the neuroscience community. Currently there are 4 INCF program areas: Digital Brain Atlasing, Ontologies for Neural Structures, Multi-scale modeling, and Standards for Data Sharing. More than 180 leading international researchers are involved in the programs. A cloud-based data federation – the INCF Dataspace - has been developed to enable collaboration between researchers through sharing of neuroscience data, text, images, sound, movies, models and simulations.
For more information, visit INCF website at http://www.incf.org/
About INCF Malaysia Node
INCF Malaysia Node is hosted by the Center for Intelligent Signal & Imaging Research (CISIR) at Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS. The Malaysia Node invites all interested Malaysian researchers and students to get in touch with us and join us in existing research in brain trauma or dementia. We also invite proposals from researchers to lead new initiatives in neuroinformatics. INCF Malaysia Node does not provide funding, but will facilitate to make national and global connections to expertise. Opportunities are also available for students to participate in projects with international collaborators such as Google Summer of Code. Contact information as follows:
Dr. Ho Tatt Wei
INCF Malaysia Node Coordinator
Center for Intelligent Signal & Imaging Research (CISIR)
Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS
32610 Bandar Seri Iskandar, Perak.