[Comp-neuro] OpenWorm Kickstarter Campaign

Shreejoy Tripathy stripathy at chibi.ubc.ca
Mon May 12 20:31:07 CEST 2014


Dear Colleagues,


 I'm writing to let you know about the OpenWorm Kickstarter Campaign (link:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/openworm/openworm-a-digital-organism-in-your-browser).
As you may know, the goal of the OpenWorm project is to digitally simulate
a C. Elegans organism. By design, the project is organized in a
geographically distributed fashion and all of the work is being done in the
open (on GitHub and Youtube) using entirely open source code and public
data.


 Though I’m not a worm researcher, I’m supporting OpenWorm’s Kickstarter
because I strongly believe in their overall mission. As a computational
neuroscientist, I see the project as a necessary first step in the
simulation of more complex organisms, including mice and ultimately humans.
Moreover, I see my Kickstarter contribution as a future investment in the
open source tools and methodologies that OpenWorm develops that I hope to
eventually use in my own research.


 More philosophically, I think that lately the field of neuroscience has
suffered from some amount of “overhype”, especially given the initially
promised outcomes of recent large-scale brain initiatives (e.g., recording
from all neurons in a mammalian brain, simulating an entire human brain).
While these projects have been hugely successful in catalyzing widespread
public support of basic neuroscience research, many neuroscientists see
these promises as perhaps a bridge too far given the current research state.


 Though OpenWorm's goals are itself highly ambitious, the relative
simplicity of the worm (named neurons, stereotyped connectomes and
musculature, the ability to image neuronal activity in vivo) lends itself
well to this attempt. By conducting the project in the open and basing
success on quantifiable goals (i.e., how similar are the simulated worm's
movements and neural activity to experimental measurements), the project
will serve as a roadmap for future endeavours in multi-scale data
integration and organismal simulation.


 Lastly, the geographically distributed and highly interdisciplinary nature
of the project makes it challenging to receive funding through traditional
NIH-style mechanisms. For this reason, I'm asking you to join me in
supporting the project's Kickstarter campaign.


More information:

OpenWorm Website: http://www.openworm.org

Kickstarter campaign link:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/openworm/openworm-a-digital-organism-in-your-browser

Project overview by OpenWorm member and neuroscientist Jim Hokanson:
http://jimandscience.blogspot.ca/2014/05/modeling-worm-thoughts-on-openworm.html

OpenWorm QandA on Reddit:
http://www.reddit.com/r/science/comments/246dlw/science_ama_series_im_stephen_larson_project/


  Sincerely,


Shreejoy Tripathy

Post-doc and Developer of neuroelectro.org

University of British Columbia
Centre for High-Throughput Biology
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