Dr Islem Rekik has been awarded the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship (success rate 13% in Europe) for 2 years, starting from April 2020 at the host institution Istanbul Technical University.
NormNets: Normalization of Multimodal Brain Networks for Integral and Predictive Mapping of Neurological Disorders
Project end date: 31.3.2022
Modern network science has introduced exciting new opportunities for understanding the brain as a complex system of interacting units in both health and disease and across the human lifespan. Despite the rapidly growing interdisciplinary science of complex networks, which spans the range from genetic and metabolic networks all the way up to social and economic systems, it remains a formidable challenge to identify the most representative and shared brain alterations caused by a specific disorder (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease), namely ‘disorder signature’, in a population of brain networks, let alone multi-modal brain networks where each brain network is derived from a particular neuroimaging modality (e.g., functional or diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI or dMRI)). Such integral signature can be revealed by what I name as a multimodal connectional brain template (CBT), which would constitute an unprecedented contribution to network neuroscience, rooted in firstly learning brain connectivity normalization and secondly foreseeing its evolution. During this fellowship, I will develop NormNets, a novel technique leveraging the power of geometric deep-learning to meet this challenge by normalizing a population of multimodal brain networks. Particularly, NormNets tools will substantially advance the field of network neuroscience by estimating not only an integral but also a predictive mapping of neurological disorders. In addition to the multi-disciplinary high-quality training I will receive at both host and secondment institutions, this fellowship will remarkably consolidate and accelerate my career on the international landscape scene in the new cross-disciplinary area of “geometric deep learning & integration connectomics” I will pioneer during this fellowship. With the endorsement of international multi-sectoral stakeholders, open NormNets resources will impact on and contribute towards the development of connectomics-rooted predictive precision medicine.