Team Science, Big Science and Open Science In the Service of Neuroscience
In 2012, the Allen Institute for Brain Science, a non-profit medical research organization, embarked on an ambitious 10-year initiative to understand the structure and function of the neocortex and associated satellite structures in humans and mice within a large-scale, radical open-science, team setting. Since then, we have set up high through-put pipelines to exhaustively characterize the morphology, electrophysiology and single-cell transcriptome of cell types as well as their synaptic interconnections in the laboratory mouse and in human neocortex based on neurosurgical excised tissue. This allows us to construct a taxonomy of hundreds of cell types in these two species. Furthermore, we built brain observatories to image the activities of 10,000s of neurons throughout visual cortex in behaving mice, to record their electrical activities, and to analyze their connectivity at the ultra-structural level. We constructed biophysically detailed as well as simplified computer simulations of the neurons, link them into cortical circuit, provide them realistic visual input and compare their firing activities against our observed functional measures. Anybody can access this data via our data portal without any restriction (www.brain-map.org). These achievements can also be considered as an experiment in the sociology of biology.