Several major technological barriers obstruct progress toward answering fundamental questions in basic and clinical neuroscience. One principal barrier is the lack of effective mechanisms for neuroscientists and clinicians to share their data with colleagues at other institutions, and to gain access to the vast resources of data that are distributed throughout the neuroscience research community. This barrier must be removed by the development of more powerful and accessible informatics tools to enable our exploration of the development, structural organization and dysfunction of our nervous system. The problems contributing to this 'informatics'barrier can be subdivided into two general categories: technical problems which limit the capabilities of existing informatics tools, and practical problems which prevent the use of those tools by the general research community. Through funding from a Phase I Human Brain Project grant, we have developed a prototype database environment that solves several of the most significant technical and practical problems. This software environment, called NeuroSys, enables neuroscience researchers to construct, maintain and extend their own in-lab databases, enhances their ability to share data and analysis tools with their collaborators at different sites, and provides an execution environment where query results on their data can be sent directly into an expandable list of advanced data analysis and simulation tools. The general goals of this project are to extend the capabilities and general utility of this prototype system, to refine the system based on intensive beta testing, and to release NeuroSys to the general scientific community.
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