Howard Hughes Medical Institute 2010 Annual Report

This visualization of a neuron network was developed by DIADEM participants from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

This visualization of a neuron network was developed by DIADEM participants from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

DIADEM Challenge Yields Big Win for Neuroscience

Hundreds of data-obsessed algorithm developers applied to compete in the Digital Reconstruction of Axonal and Dendritic Morphology (DIADEM) Challenge, held at Janelia Farm between August 29 and September 1, 2010.

The competition aimed to promote the development of computer algorithms that map a neuron’s many twists and branches—an otherwise labor-intensive task. It resulted in a new generation of computational tools that trace neurons up to 10 times faster than was previously possible.

The tournament format of the competition’s final round—where five teams vied for $75,000 in prize money—brought competitors together with neuroscientists, whose real data were used to put the reconstruction algorithms to the test. In six editing sessions, each competitor worked with each team of data owners to achieve the most satisfactory solution to six different imaging problems. Teams were evaluated on the speed and accuracy of reconstruction as well as how much time was required for hands-on editing of reconstructed images.

Teams received the following commendations from the DIADEM jury:

“for the better overall generality of their program in producing robust reconstructions by integration of human and machines interactions”
Badrinath Roysam Team, $25,000
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Badrinath Roysam, Kedar Grama, Jonathan Luisi, Erin Mansir, Amit Mukherjee, Arun Narayanaswamy, Chia-Ling Tsai, Tenicka Turnquest, Yu Wang, Andrew Zonenberg

“for the better overall biological results in the spirit of pure automation”
Armen Stepanyants Team, $25,000
Northeastern University
Armen Stepanyants, Paarth Chothani, Vivek Mehta, Zlatko Vasilkoski

“for the excellent quality and strength of their algorithm”
Eugene Myers Team, $15,000
Janelia Farm Research Campus
Eugene Meyers, Parvez Ahammad, Fernando Amat, Nathan Clack, Fuhui Long, Hanchuan Peng, Jun Xie, Ting Zhao

“for their deeper potential, more original approach, and ultimate scalability of their proposed solution”
German Gonzalez Team, $10,000
École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
German Gonzalez, Fethallah Benmansour, Pascual Fua, Jan Kybic, Kevin Smith, Engin Turetkin

“for elevating themselves above the current state of automated reconstructions…with a deep understanding of the technical and scientific problems”
Deniz Erdogmus Team
Northeastern University
Deniz Erdogmus, Erhan Bas

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New Lab Heads

New Lab Heads

Meet eight new group leaders and fellows who joined Janelia or received promotions this year.

Computing Cluster Attains Superpower Status

Janelia Farm’s New Superpower

Janelia Farm’s computing cluster received a critical upgrade this year—from powerful to state of the art.

Research Highlights

Research Highlights

Explore the work of HHMI scientists through an interactive feature that highlights some of their notable discoveries in 2010.

Deducing Blueprints From Design

Deducing Blueprints From Design

Understanding the nervous systems of even the simplest model organisms requires sophisticated tools.

Photo Credit: Badrinath Roysam, RPI. Original image data courtesy: GA Ascoli, George Mason university and I Sugihara, Tokyo Medical and Dental University