Neuropolis – The Region becomes a global Neuroscience hub
11.06.12 - Switzerland develops an international showcase dedicated to neuroscience and the science of simulation. The project, NEUROPOLIS, combines scientific insights from EPFL with the Universities of Lausanne and Geneva. It is manifested through two centers, in Lausanne and Geneva. The entire project, costing 110 million Swiss Francs, will be supported in various ways by the Cantons of Vaud and Geneva, the Swiss Confederation, and the Rolex Group.
The “Métropole Lémanique” is experiencing a unique surge in the field of neuroscience. This area has large international teams of researchers, dedicated to the economic and industrial development of the region. How best to take advantage of this unique opportunity and offer researchers a place to work, while increasing the visibility of this promising scientific momentum? It is in response to these global issues that NEUROPOLIS was conceived. The project meets a major challenge of the 21st century: understanding the human brain while creating a unique space in which researchers can interact with the public.
One Project, Two Sites
To achieve this, the NEUROPOLIS project will construct two entities:
—A research infrastructure in Lausanne constructed on the grounds of the institutions of higher learning, UNIL-EPFL. This spot will also have a public space dedicated to the brain;
—A Geneva-located infrastructure near the University Hospital will house a new Institute of Translational Molecular Imaging.
The construction of these two sites is estimated to cost 110 million Swiss Francs. They would be able to accommodate as many as 1,000 scientific and technological collaborators.
Public-Private Partnership (Canton of Vaud :: Swiss Confederation :: Rolex)
The realization of this ambition wouldn’t have seen the light of day without the outstanding contribution of several actors from both the public and private sectors. The Canton of Vaud provided an essential piece in the foundation of this project through a financial contribution of 35 million Swiss Francs for the construction of the building in Lausanne – and if necessary, offering a site on the university campus. Neuropolis will be launched thanks to the renewed support of the Rolex Group. The brand seeks to encourage research and a pioneering spirit in a leading sector that concerns all of humanity. “A strong historical connection exists between Rolex and EPFL, with the Rolex Learning Center as one of the most iconic examples of that relationship. With NEUROPOLIS, Rolex reiterates its strong sense of social responsibility on the local and global levels, and is pleased to assist in a world-class project that represents a fundamental advance in the field of neuroscience. The participation of Rolex in such a visionary project, such a decisive human and scientific adventure, echoes the brand’s perpetual quest for innovation and excellence,” said Bertrand Gros, President of Rolex, SA.
The Swiss Confederation and EPFL, through both their usual building program and a private funding campaign, will be responsible for the remainder of the investment.
Lausanne – The Nerve Center of the Blue Brain (EPFL) and the Human Brain Project (EU)
NEUROPOLIS hosts the simulation platform of the Blue Brain Project and will manage the supercomputer’s resources remotely. The platform will host the huge databases necessary for neuroscience and other fields, as well as the simulation cockpit coordinated by teams of computer scientists and neuroscientists. Scientists worldwide will be able to use the computing power and software developed there; laboratories and workspaces for top international visitors will be installed. If selected by the European Union, the center will also host the “flagship” Human Brain Project (EU), a project that now has about 120 teams in 90 scientific institutions from 22 countries, including those in the partner hospital CHUV in Lausanne. The application has been submitted for a decision expected in early 2013.
Lausanne – A Bridge Between Science and the Public
NEUROPOLIS is also for the general public. For the first time in Europe, an open and interactive space will be dedicated to neuroscience and the conquest of the brain. The Center for Scientific Simulation will provide the entertainment and the multiple mechanisms of thought will be illuminated there for everyone to enjoy and discover.
Lausanne – A New Research Platform with UNIL
UNIL has begun refocusing its campus toward skills of basic neuroscience and is already home to the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB). NEUROPOLIS will help accelerate the development strategy of simulation-based science, such as evolutionary biology and oncology, and continue the trajectory of Computational Science (involving significant resources for integrating large amounts of data) in other fields which require the prediction and analysis of interactions between many sub-systems: environmental and earth sciences (continental drift or natural disasters), economics, as well as finance and the human and social sciences.
Geneva – A New Institute of Molecular Imaging (UNIGE)
Taking advantage of the expertise developed in the Geneva area and of existing infrastructure in the field of Neuroscience, The University of Geneva and the Canton Hospital, in collaboration with EPFL, will construct an Institute of Translational Molecular Imaging in Geneva. These activities, involving several parallel imaging techniques and built-in analysis, will focus on neuro-imaging, chronic diseases, neurological degeneration, and aging. The new institute is part of Geneva’s development plan of Translational Molecular Imaging, which will be articulated around four axes: animal imaging, nanotechnology, radiation chemistry, and modeling. Research conducted in conjunction with existing clinical programs will consider medical applications in the treatment of cancer as well as neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases. These projects will extend the cognitive and behavioral research aspects of Geneva’s “Nouvelle Jonction. Art, Neurosciences, Cité” project.
This project will establish an institute of international stature. Like CERN in the field of physics, NEUROPOLIS unites neuroscientists and biologists from around the world. This fall an international architecture competition will be launched. The call is to design a unique and symbolic space that is capable of bringing together scientists and the general public around one of the most passionate research themes of the century.