SINAPSE was delighted to lead a session on Data Sciences and Brain Health across the Life Course in this year’s annual conference for the Informatics and Computer Science research pool SICSA, co-organised with the Life Sciences research pool SULSA, the Scottish Dementia Research Consortium (SDRC) and SICSA.

The session addressed multidisciplinary challenges in the early detection of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, and new opportunities to build capacity in Scotland by integrating data science with brain health research areas of neurobiology and neuroimaging.

Brief presentations were given by a panel of researchers who are working to drive the interdisciplinary collaborations required to address these challenges:

  • Gerry Thompson, Senior Clinical Lecturer in Radiology at University of Edinburgh and Honorary Consultant Neuroradiologist for NHS Lothian, represented SINAPSE with a presentation on brain imaging data for dementia biomarker discovery.
  • Bettina Platt, Chair in Translational Neuroscience at University of Aberdeen, represented SULSA with a presentation on translational, multidisciplinary approaches in dementia research, from experimental to (pre-)clinical domains.
  • Mike Chantler, Professor of Computer Science at Heriot-Watt University, represented SICSA with a presentation on topic modelling and data visualisation to identify content and trends within large free-text datasets. Among his examples was the web application that interactively maps research publications from 15 Scottish universities since 2014.
  • Graciela Muniz Terrera, Senior Lecturer in Biostatistics and Epidemiology at University of Edinburgh, represented SDRC with a presentation on challenges that remain for delivering clinical impact from predictive models of brain health and dementia risk.

Panellists’ presentations set the scene for an interdisciplinary brain health research network being jointly developed by SINAPSE, SULSA, SICSA and SDRC to enable advancements in innovative computational and mathematical methods for dementia prediction, analysis, and modelling which will be applicable in a routine healthcare setting. The new research network (as well as this conference session) was developed out of a recent cross-pool initiative to intensify efforts around collaborative research and innovation in Scotland. More information on the initiative, and an interactive tool for engaging with the Scottish research and innovation ecosystem, can be found at

After the presentations, open discussion with session participants addressed difficulties that researchers commonly encounter around data sharing and data management. A relevant UK-wide initative mentioned in discussion was the development of “data metrology” infrastructure by the National Physical Laboratory.

Anyone wishing to participate in new collaborations crossing the disciplinary boundaries of clinical brain research, preclinical brain research, and computing science is welcome to subscribe to a new mailing list launched at the session:

A recording of the session is available to view on demand on the SICSA YouTube channel.