A Warehouse for Neuroscience

Benjamin Ineichen, group leader at the Center for Reproducible Science at the University of Zurich, will lead the project “Advancing 3R – Animals, Research and Society” from the National Research Program 79. He will establish a data warehouse for neuroscientists called ANIMONE (ANimal MOdels in NEuroscience). The warehouse will feature systematically curated experimental data from all available publications from in vivo neuroscience and will also scrutinize bench-to-bedside translation into drugs. This is not only good news for neuroscientists but also promises to replace or reduce animal testing.

Benjamin Ineichen, congratulations on the successful NRP application. How do I have to imagine an in-vivo warehouse for neuroscience?
Thank you! Our warehouse will feature a comprehensive summary of experimental data gathered from all published animal neuroscience studies. To give you an idea, we have setup a pilot warehouse.
The warehouse currently contains data from only about 100 studies. However, our goal is to harbor the entirety of available in vivo neuroscience publications. Since there will be rather hundreds of thousands of publications, we will use text analytics and artificial intelligence to deal with all these data.

Can you tell us a little more about the upcoming research project, what will it focus on specifically?
Having these data will be the basis to address several pending problems in neuroscience. We will systematically evaluate which therapies have been tested in animal models of neurological disease and which have led to a clinical trial in patients. The methods we have developed will also help us better manage the skyrocketing number of publications entering Pubmed each year.

How do you manage to cover the different areas of expertise?
The target audience of our camp will be first and foremost neuroscientists working with animals. Thus, we aim at closely collaborating with neuroscience animal researchers all over the world. This also includes several ZNZ research group leaders which have affirmed their active participation in the development of our warehouse. We also work closely with Prof. Malcolm Macleod from the University of Edinburgh, who is an expert in automated text analysis.

What do you hope to achieve within the scope of your NRP?
The primary goal of our Warehouse is to support evidence-based design of animal experiments in neuroscience by providing scientists with all relevant information. This large data set will also allow us to look for potential in vivo experimental parameters associated with more successful bench-to-bedside translation. Finally, our endeavor is crucial for digitalization of neuroscience. All these milestones can support the 3R principles, i.e., the replacement, reduction, and refinement of animal experiments.

The Ineichen Lab is currently looking for a PhD student with a background in data science/informatics and Master students to join the team. Inquiries can be sent to Benjamin Ineichen.

Other useful links
Center for Reproducible Science
Animal Welfare Research Award