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November 26, 2018

APL, Collaborators Launch World’s Largest Neuroscience Data Repository

Combining Expertise and Information, New Tool Designed to Promote Discovery

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, collaborating with scientists from Johns Hopkins University and many other universities and research organizations, have launched the world’s largest and most diverse public neuroscience data repository. NeuroData holds nearly 100 public and private datasets, including large amounts of complex multidimensional data, from 30 collaborators.

Technology has enabled scientists to collect increasingly large and heterogeneous “big” data, but sharing this information is an ongoing challenge. The multidisciplinary team launched an open-access data repository powered by open-source web-services software to store, analyze and visualize large imaging datasets.

In an article published this month in Nature Methods — “A community-developed open-source computational ecosystem for big neuro data” — the researchers describe how they add data based on their collaborations and community input.

“Without running any code or downloading any data, anyone with internet access can visualize image data from different technologies to generate hypotheses or plan new experiments,” they write. “If investigators choose to download data and/or code, they can access and analyze disparate data with the same functionality and syntax, which allows for faster comparisons and scientific discoveries.”

At the heart of this system is APL’s Block Object Storage Service, known as bossDB, which enables rapid, robust storage of petabytes of data in a secure cloud-based environment. “As neuroscience datasets continue to grow in size, this is an important example of collaborative experimentation at the forefront of neuroscience, combining diverse expertise drawn from many research groups,” said William Gray-Roncal, a research scientist at APL.

Media contact: Paulette Campbell, 240-228-6792, Paulette.Campbell@jhuapl.edu

The Applied Physics Laboratory, a not-for-profit division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit www.jhuapl.edu.