Purpose and objectives

Neuroinformatics is an emerging field of research that comprises the use of modern data-intensive technologies in neuroscience. Its practice requires both broad knowledge of neuroscience as well as substantive competency in data science. The Neuroinformatics Working Group at the University of Washington (UW) eScience Institute and the University of Washington Institute for Neuroengineering (UWIN) focuses on neuroinformatics methods and their role in understanding the brain.

UW has many units and programs devoted to neuroscience, and many researchers across campus and in the wider Seattle neuroscience community use data-intensive computing technologies. We feel there is tremendous potential for researchers across neuroinformatics – with focus on many different model organisms and levels of description – to learn from each other, to form new collaborations, and to work together to promote reproducible science. For these reasons, we feel the need to create a focal point for neuroinformatics activities at UW. This working group will serve as connective tissue in the research community, also providing a bridge between the data science activities undertaken at eScience and the broader neuroscience community.

The objectives of the working group are:

  • To provide an inclusive forum for discussion on all aspects of neuroinformatics at the UW and the Seattle area.

  • To facilitate deep understanding of neuroinformatics through code reviews, critical reading of published neuroinformatics work, and active reproductions of this work.

  • To help organize seminars, symposia, and hackathons.

  • To develop, harden, and disseminate software for the analysis of data from neuroscience experiments.

  • To foster practices for reproducible and open science among neuroscience researchers.

A successful neuroinformatics community will accelerate the adoption of data-intensive technologies in neuroscience research at UW. It will provide specific neuroinformatics skills to trainees in existing training programs. It will spur new research in neuroinformatics and in neuroscience. Finally, it will galvanize a community of practice on campus and in the surrounding region, with a specific focus on technical excellence, methodological adventurousness, and an open collaborative spirit.

It is our hope to solidify the leadership role that UW has already established in neuroscience and data science, serving as an example for other universities and research institutions.