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Virtual Meeting (online)
Dr Kristin Flegal

Fellow research pool SICSA, the Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance, is holding its annual conference online this year under the theme SICSA and the Sustainable Society. Participation in the event is invited from other research pools across Scotland, to bring together a large community of people to discuss the Computing and interdisciplinary challenges ahead.

The SICSA Conference schedule includes a track of jointly developed sessions with a focus on research themes and challenges that have the genuine potential to span disciplines and initiate the discussions that will lead to a research roadmap that engages multiple disciplines in addressing them.

SINAPSE is delighted to be co-organising a session in this track on Data Sciences and Brain Health across the Life Course along with the Life Sciences research pool SULSA, the Scottish Dementia Research Consortium (SDRC) and SICSA.

This session will address 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 will be given by a panel of researchers who are working to develop new collaborations across disciplinary boundaries of clinical brain research, preclinical brain research, and computing science, followed by open discussion with session participants.

  • Gerry Thompson, Senior Clinical Lecturer in Radiology at University of Edinburgh and Honorary Consultant Neuroradiologist for NHS Lothian, will represent SINAPSE with a presentation on brain imaging data for dementia biomarker discovery.
  • Bettina Platt, Chair in Translational Neuroscience at University of Aberdeen, will represent 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, will represent SICSA with a presentation on topic modelling and data visualisation to identify content and trends within large free-text datasets. Examples will include models of 60,000 Covid publications and UKRI grants databases.
  • Graciela Muniz Terrera, Senior Lecturer in Biostatistics and Epidemiology at University of Edinburgh, will represent SDRC with a presentation on challenges that remain for delivering clinical impact from predictive models of brain health and dementia risk.

SINAPSE, SULSA, SICSA and SDRC are jointly initiating an interdisciplinary brain health research network to enable advancements in innovative computational and mathematical methods for dementia prediction, analysis, and modelling which will be applicable in a routine healthcare setting. After the panellists’ presentations on their respective research areas, aims for new collaborations bringing together these separate research communities will be outlined and the remainder of the session will be open for collective ideation and conversation. Hot topics within the neurodegeneration research pathway from lab bench to patient will be identified through discussion, and associated with skills needs from computing science. The session organisers plan to fund a series of sandpits in these areas as an outcome.