Understanding the Human Brain

Understanding the brain is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century because of the enormous variety of factors that influence its functioning. Sergio Miguel Tomé, trained as a researcher at the University of Salamanca, has been awarded the prestigious Marie Curie-Global Fellowship to create computer tools for the study of one of the least known elements of the brain, extra-cellular space. The project will be developed between the University of Salamanca and the State University of New York, where Sergio will work as soon as the situation caused by the pandemic improves and enables him to go.

The extracellular space is the space that remains between all the cells of the brain, and is occupied by fluid that is constantly being renewed. The extracellular space is fundamental for the correct functioning of the nervous system; in fact, in recent years, research has been carried out into its role in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.  In addition, the extracellular space plays key role in the administration of a neuropharmaceutical, as it is where it is distributed once it enters the brain. 

Sergio’s project is called Hippocampus Extracellular Space Simulator Project (HESSP). As the name of the project indicates, it focuses specifically on simulating the extra-cellular space of the hippocampus. Sergio chose the hippocampus as the structure of the brain where Alzheimer’s begins, and it is of special interest for research into Alzheimer’s. The project will be carried out at the University of Salamanca in collaboration with the State University of New York. Dr Herman Moreno, a renowned researcher in the field of neurodegenerative diseases at the State University of New York, Dr Ángel Fernando Porteros from the Castile and León Institute of Neurosciences and Dr Sabina Hrabetova, a world expert in the extracellular space will also collaborate in this project.

The project launched by Sergio is really important since the creation of computer tools for research into the extracellular space, could help discover the dynamics of the molecules of a neuropharmaceutical within the brain.  This work is particularly valuable since many experiments are currently being carried out that cannot be performed on humans due to ethical issues.  Furthermore, this type of computer tool could also help avoid human trials with neuropharmaceuticals by allowing for the study of their diffusion in the brain through simulations.  Furthermore, from the point of view of computing, considerable challenges must be overcome and if Sergio’s solution works it could be applied to other scientific fields.

– Congratulations Sergio

Posted by Juan M. Corchado

Juan Manuel Corchado (15 May 1971, Salamanca, Spain) is Professor at the University of Salamanca. He has been Vice-Rector for Research from 2013 to 2017 and Director of the Science Park of the University of Salamanca. Elected as Dean of the Faculty of Science twice, he holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Salamanca and a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from the University of the West of Scotland. He leads the renowned BISITE (Bioinformatics, Intelligent Systems and Educational Technology) Research Group, created in 2000. Director of the IoT Digital Innovation Hub and President of the AIR Institute, J. M. Corchado is also Visiting Professor at the Osaka Institute of Technology since January 2015, Visiting Professor at the Universiti Malaysia Kelantan and Member of the Advisory Group on Online Terrorist Propaganda of the European Counter Terrorism Centre (EUROPOL). J. M. Corchado has been president of the IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society, and academic coordinator of the University Institute for Research in Art and Animation Technology at the University of Salamanca, as well as researcher at the Universities of Paisley (UK), Vigo (Spain) and the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (UK). He currently combines all his activity with the direction of Master programmes in Security, Digital Animation, Mobile Telephony, Information Systems Management, Internet of Things, Social Media, 3D Design and Printing, Blockchain, Z System, Industry 4.0, Agile Project Management, and Smart Cities & Intelligent Buildings, at the University of Salamanca and his work as editor-in-chief of the journals ADCAIJ (Advances in Distributed Computing and Artificial Intelligence Journal), OJCST (Oriental Journal of Computer Science and Technology) or Electronics MDPI (Computer Science & Engineering section). J. M. Corchado mainly works on projects related to Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchain, IoT, Fog Computing, Edge Computing, Smart Cities, Smart Grids and Sentiment Analysis. He has recently been included in the board of trustees of the AstraZeneca Foundation, along with other health professionals and researchers recognised for bringing scientific knowledge closer to society.