Data collections of every variety now abound and continue to grow in the neurosciences but their lack of acces- sibility, especially in an integrative way, to the average investigator presents a persistent and vexing challenge to the field and ultimately limits the potential impact of these resources. To address this undesirable state of the science, the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility (INCF, established the Digital At- lasing Program to formulate standards and practices for atlas-based data sharing, and to instantiate these, for the rodent brain initially, in infrastructure, systems and methods capable of serving the scientific goals of the commu- nity. A central outcome has been the development and prototypical implementation of Waxholm Space (WHS), a standard coordinate system for the adult C57BL/6 mouse brain, and its underlying digital atlasing infrastructure (DAI) that allows researchers to query any data resource registered to WHS as an atlas hub. As with its counter- part in human brain studies, the Talairach coordinate system, an essential requirement is the ability to normalize user data into standardized space; the inverse transformation allows standardized data to be accessed in user?s native space. This project brings together leading expertise in brain atlasing at Penn and Duke to develop, evaluate and deploy this critical functionality under community support that would make possible the WHS-based coordination of rodent brain research, which would allow access to data, tools, and analyses from multiple sources. Toward this end, an improved multi-modality atlas defining the canonical coordinate system of WHS will be developed for the mouse and rat, expanding both the range of experimental studies possible and the types of analyses that may be applied to these in the field. This first-of-its-kind analytic capability will be enabled by a suite of tools that accommodate a variety of user backgrounds and needs. These developments will be evaluated through their application to real- world use cases and their practical integration with major community resources. The successful completion of this project will fully realize the value of Waxholm Space in rodent neuroscience research and lead to immediate and broad impact on the field.

Public Health Relevance

This project will improve scientists? ability to use very high resolution imaging to quantitatively assess the structure and function of the rodent brain in health and disease. Scientific interest in rodent brain imaging has continued to rise in recent years because of the importance of the mouse and rat models in neuroscience research, but the computational tools that are currently available lack the basic ability needed by scientists to precisely determine the anatomical locations of brain effects of interest or to compare and integrate different measurements of these effects that have been acquired, for example, from different animals or with different imaging modalities. By pro- viding open-source, user-friendly, widely interoperable, and extensively validated tools for brain imaging analysis and mapping, the project will enable a broad field of scientists to leverage modern imaging technologies more effectively in answering basic science questions about the rodent brain, and this in turn will speed neuroscience discovery as a whole.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Research Project (R01)
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Neuroscience and Ophthalmic Imaging Technologies Study Section (NOIT)
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Gnadt, James W
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University of Pennsylvania
Schools of Medicine
United States
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