Rewarding excellence in Open Science

This year’s prize winners improve data sharing, reproducibility, and inclusivity

Three exciting Open Science initiatives will receive critical support thanks to The Neuro - Irv and Helga Cooper Foundation Open Science Prizes. The recipients of the 2023 awards have demonstrated exemplary leadership and creativity by providing tools and resources, facilitating data sharing, reproducibility and importantly making accessible new datasets of populations, such as individuals of African ancestry that are underrepresented in research and databanks, with the ultimate goal of improving quality of care for patients in Africa and other regions.

Interest in the Prizes was global once again this year. There were more than 20 applications from 17 countries for the International Prize. The range of projects was impressive, from creating sustainable capacities for neuroimaging science in Africa, to developing standards for sharing brain imaging data, providing toolkits for electrophysiological recordings, reframing peer review, and creating platforms for whole brain network modeling, data sharing, and more. Applications for the Trainee Awards came in from 20 trainees from eight countries including Australia, France, The Netherlands, Nigeria, UK, Germany, USA and Canada.

The Neuro-Irv and Helga Cooper Foundation Open Science Prizes, sponsored by the Irv and Helga Cooper Foundation, are an initiative from The Tanenbaum Open Science Institute at The Neuro. Prizes will be awarded on November 30 at The Open Science in Action Symposium.


International Prize - $80,000

Brain Imaging Data Structure (BIDS), a data standard to support the global neuroimaging community - The BIDS Steering Committee

Ariel Rokem, University of Washington
Cyril Pernet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet
Guiomar Niso, Cajal Institute of the Spanish National Research Council
Yaroslav Halchenko, Dartmouth University
Robert Oostenveld, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour

BIDS received the Prize for its longstanding community-driven approach to standardizing neuroimaging data, resulting in widespread adoption. BIDS has played a crucial role in numerous global data sharing initiatives, serving as a model for other standards. The Prize Selection Committee also commended the organization for its dedication to the broader neuroscience community and ongoing endeavors to extend BIDS to encompass additional data modalities.

Data from neuroimaging experiments can be arranged in many different ways, but in the absence of a standard, they are organized differently between institutions and even within a lab. This leads to misunderstandings and errors, as well as inefficient use of resources. In addition, it results in poor reproducibility even within the lab where data were collected. The Brain Imaging Data Structure (BIDS) addresses these challenges through a simple, easy-to-adopt way to organize neuroimaging data. BIDS is a community-led standard for organizing, describing and sharing neuroimaging data. In addition to a specification document which describes the standard, it includes applications and tools that make it easy for researchers to incorporate the standard into their current workflows, maximizing reproducibility, data sharing opportunities and supporting good scientific practices. The widespread adoption of BIDS has had major impact on research, with more than 300 contributors around the world, 100 centres and projects relying on the standard, MRI data from more than 45,000 individuals shared in BIDS format through various platforms, and more than 1,500 citations since 2016. By removing barriers to data sharing, BIDS is enabling a plethora of projects that rely on open-source data around the world.


Trainee Prizes

International Trainee Prize - $10,000

The Brain Tumour Segmentation Challenge for Sub-Saharan Africa - Maruf Adewole, Medical Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Lagos, Nigeria

The Prize was awarded for Maruf Adewole’s significant leadership in initiatives aimed at enhancing research capacity in under-resourced communities and his multifaceted contributions to Open Science, spanning various methodologies and encompassing pillars such as open data sharing, large-scale collaborations, and training.

The Brain Tumour Segmentation (BraTS) Challenge has been running for more than a decade but has never featured data from underserved regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). In collaboration with the Consortium for Advancement of MRI Education and Research in Africa (CAMERA), Maruf Adewole led BraTS-SSA, the first open access magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) dataset of brain tumour cases from Sub-Saharan Africa. This project provided the opportunity to include SSA population in global efforts to create artificial intelligence tools to improve brain tumour detection and treatment planning. By aggregating and curating a diverse dataset from African diagnostics centers, it has provided researchers with a valuable resource to better understand the unique aspects of brain tumours in African populations. This dataset has the power to enhance diagnostic accuracy, treatment planning, and therapeutic outcomes, ultimately improving the quality of care for patients in Africa and other resource-constrained environments whose peculiarities mirrors Africa.


Canadian Trainee Prize - $5,000

Continuous Evaluation of Denoising Strategies in Resting-State fMRI Connectivity Using fMRIPrep and Nilearn - Hao-Ting Wang, Centre de recherche de l’Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal

The Prize was awarded for Hao-Ting's numerous contributions to open-source software enabling open and reproducible neuroimaging, and her continuous involvement in both the local and global Open Science communities.

This project presents a new denoising benchmark for functional MRI data that can be repeatedly executed for users of the popular open preprocessing software fMRIPrep. This benchmark introduces the first denoising assessment of connectomes using a contemporary software framework. It boasts an open workflow, from dataset to software implementation. Notably, the project prioritizes the software's lifecycle and community benefits over individual authorship, exemplified by the incorporation into the existing, open, and widely used software library Nilearn, rather than creating a separate software package. With the aim of furnishing guidance to the fMRIprep user community and underscoring the significance of ongoing research method evaluation, this work lays the groundwork for a reproducible research infrastructure. The preprint published on the Neurolibre Preprint Service facilitates future continuous assessment and demonstrates the potential of Neurolibre’s applications to reproducible research. The benchmark project further served as prototypes of Brain Imaging Data Structure applications (BIDS-App) for generating machine-learning-ready time series and connectomes.


Register now - November 30, 2023: Prize Ceremony and Open Science Symposium
This year, The Neuro - Irv and Helga Cooper Foundation Open Science Prizes will be awarded in-person at the Open Science in Action Symposium on November 30, 2023.

To learn more about these projects and much more, including the chance to network and make new connections!

Register now



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The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) is a bilingual academic healthcare institution. We are a McGill research and teaching institute; delivering high-quality patient care, as part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. We are proud to be a Killam Institution, supported by the Killam Trusts.



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