Getting inside the brain

Two heads are better than one, so the saying goes. Brainhack Western took this to the next level earlier this month, hosting dozens of trainees and faculty members from across campus.

Their common purpose was to develop innovative solutions to emerging issues in neuroimaging and neuroscience.

The inaugural, multi-day event hosted was hosted at Robarts, and saw participants representing disciplines ranging from engineering to mathematics to the medical sciences coming together to share ideas and work collaboratively.
The excitement began with a project pitch session to more than 90 attendees. From there, teams were formed and open hacking got underway. The teams worked intensively for two full days on selected projects. Judging took place on the final evening, and prizes were awarded in a variety of categories.

The global Brainhack movement aims to expose participants to collaborative neuroscience and neuroimaging work and demonstrate the importance of multidisciplinary approaches to research.

“Science is moving in that direction,” explained Robarts scientist Ali Khan, PhD, and one of Brainhack Western’s organizers. “Breaking down walls between researchers is the only way to make clear advances and carry out science as reproducible and accessible.”
Education was another important component of the event, which included a series of tutorial sessions led by principal investigators and trainees.

“We wanted to build a sense of community and mentorship,” said Khan. "The varying level of training and experience among team members became unique opportunities for mentorship as well."

Western was one of about 30 institutions around the world that participated in Brainhack. Local participants took advantage of these international connections through livestreams and online tutorials.
Watch the complete CTV London story online.

Prize Winners from Brainhack Western 2017

First Place ($200): Localization of the subthalamic nucleus using machine learning and local field potentials
Greydon Gilmore, PhD Candidate, Physiology & Pharmacology
Neda Kordjazi, MSc Candidate, Neuroscience
Hossein Rejali, undergraduate student at McMaster University
Farokh Atashzar, Postdoctoral Fellow, Biomedical Engineering

Second Place ($120): Brain Imaging Data Structure (BIDS) for standardizing imaging studies in the CFMM
Olivia Stanley, PhD Candidate, Medical Biophysics
Igor Solovey,  Scientific Software Engineer, CFMM, Robarts Research Institute
Alan Kuurstra, Research Engineer, CFMM, Robarts Research Institute
Geoffrey Ngo, MSc Candidate, Medical Biophysics

Third Place ($80): E-Z 3D printed brain workflow
Saeed Bakhshmand, Biomedical Engineering
Santiago Cobos, Anatomy and Cell Biology

Volunteer Organizing Team

Philippe Castonguay
Jordan DeKraker
Geetika Gupta
Jason Kai
Patrick Park
Xin Yue Wang