Co-Founder of OpenWorm Foundation visits CPS Group

On Thursday, April 27th 2017 at 12:00, Dr. Stephen Larson, former TED presenter, will be giving an exciting talk with the title "OpenWorm: Building the world’s first digital organism in an open science manner" at our CPS library.

Abstract of the Speech:

Of great interest in modern science are the questions of how the brain produces behavior and experience and how we may be able to build brains within computers.  Central to answering both questions is to understand how the cells of the nervous system process information.  The deepest understanding would be achieved if it were possible to engineer models of cells to produce arbitrary information processing operations.  A good place to reverse-engineer the understanding necessary for this would be with a simple biological organism with relatively few cells and for which a lot of observations and measurements have already been made.
To tackle this challenge, OpenWorm aims to build the first comprehensive computational model of the Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), a microscopic roundworm. With only a thousand cells-- three hundred of which are brain cells-- it solves non-trivial survival challenges such as feeding, mate-finding and predator avoidance.  Despite being the only organism with a complete wiring diagram of its brain cells, discovered thirty years ago, there is still no principled understanding of how even simple crawling or swimming behaviors are produced by its cells.
At OpenWorm, we are using a bottom-up approach, aimed at observing the worm behavior emerge from simulations using cellular data derived from scientific experiments carried out over the past decade. To do so, we are incorporating the data available in the scientific community into computational models. We are engineering Geppetto, c302, and Sibernetic, open-source simulation platforms, to be able to run these different models in concert. We are also forging new collaborations with universities and research institutes to collect new data that fill in gaps. 
In this talk, I will discuss recent progress with the project and steps forward to begin deriving deep insight from the modelling and simulation work that has been done.
Short bio:
Stephen Larson is co-founder of OpenWorm, an open science project to digitally reconstruct a whole organism.  He has authored over a dozen peer-reviewed articles, and has co-developed a patent  Stephen received his B.S. and M.Eng from MIT in computer science and a neuroscience Ph.D from UCSD.  In addition to his scientific work, he serves as the CEO of MetaCell, a custom software services company for the life sciences, and has been featured at the TEDx forum and in the Economist.