Want to make $75,000? Good at algorithm design? Read on…
Neuroscientists map the tree-like structure of nerve cells to better understand how networks of neurons assemble into circuits to enable complex behavior. Despite the advent of computer technology that enables mapping in three dimensions, neuronal reconstructions are still largely performed by hand and reconstructing a single cell may take months. The vast majority of axons (the long neuronal projections that transmit information to neighboring cells) and dendrites (the branches on nerve cells that receive information from neighboring cells) must be traced manually.
The lack of powerful – and effective – computational tools to automatically reconstruct neuronal arbors has emerged as a major technical bottleneck in neuroscience research.
Organizers of a new competition hope to provide incentives for the development of new computer algorithms to advance the field – including a cash prize of up to $75,000 for the qualifying winner.
Competitors will have a year to design an algorithm and to test it against the manual gold standard. Up to five finalists will compete in a tournament at the Janelia Farm Research Campus in August 2010.
The prize has been established by the Allen Institute for Brain Science and the Janelia Farm Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The National Institutes of Health is providing support for a scientific conference that is independent of – but held in conjunction with – the tournament phase of the DIADEM Challenge.