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Research visit of Christopher C. Bernido and M. Victoria Carpio-Bernido

Research visit of Christopher C. Bernido and M. Victoria Carpio-Bernido

 

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The first week of our visit coincided with the Bernstein Conference 2011, held on 4-7 October 2011, hosted by BCF and held in the historic Albert-Ludwigs Universität Freiburg. The Conference had an impressive line-up of speakers on exciting open areas of neuroscience and neurotechnology research. One notable thing about the conference was the large number of young postdocs and MS/PhD students from institutions in different parts of the world participating and presenting their work in the poster sessions. For a relatively young field, computational neuroscience seems attractive, dynamic and rich in potential, with the Bernstein Conferences easily sustainable for the next decades as showcase of developments and advances.

The Bernstein Center Freiburg (BCF) is clearly run by first-rate scientists driven by passion to push forward the frontiers of neuroscience and neurotechnology. An overarching goal is clear: the advancement of these areas would ultimately impact the lives of millions of people all over the world especially those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, among others. The (hopefully) upcoming collaborative megaproject of BCF on brain-machine interface should boost efforts to help the physically disabled to lead more functional and independent lives.

The profile and background of BCF researchers, from research professors to Ph.D. students, were very international and multidisciplinary. Aside from neurobiologists, the roster includes physicists, mathematicians, electrical and computer engineers. The BCF, together with other nodes of the Bernstein Network funded by the German government, is indeed well-positioned to significantly contribute toward achievement of a holy grail of science – understanding fully how the human brain works to a level that would allow the usual predictive power of science to be utilized for technological advances for social and medical fields.

On the personal side, it was a pleasant experience and inspiration for us to see how BCF’s drive for excellence is anchored on kindness and mutual respect, as well as caring hospitality for guests – even to newcomers to neuroscience like us, driven to the area by daunting pedagogical problems currently faced by our country. Collegiality and friendliness were not lost in spite of the daily pressure of activities intrinsic to influential neuroscience centers in the world.

Finally, our visit was made more refreshing and memorable by the location of BCF – Am Schlossberg, at the foot of the Schwarzwald, near the Stadtgarten and the picturesque Altstadt of Freiburg. Though not possible during this visit, it should also be interesting to take opportunities afforded by the proximity of Freiburg to Strasbourg and to Basel, the other nodes of the trinational network for computational neuroscience, NEUREX.

We remain grateful to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation which made possible our visit at BCF as part of a renewed stay in Germany, being former Humboldt research fellows.

 

Christopher C. Bernido and M. Victoria Carpio-Bernido


 

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