A couple of weeks ago, we held our first Connectomics Annotation Fest Extraordinaire (CAFE) in the Marclab. The goal was to provide an orientation to a software package architected by James Anderson to provide an interface to browse and ability to annotate and visualize connectomes. This software, called Viking is the pre-eminent software on the planet to explore and annotate connectomics data and while we have been using it for some time to browse, annotate and analyze nanometer scale connectomics maps of complete neural systems, the CAFE was the first event to train diverse neuroscience groups in the methods of annotation and data sharing using the Viking system.
We had faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students and even a high school student attend the event, representing labs from the University of Utah, the University of Texas / Houston, the University of California / Davis and UCLA.
Robert giving an orientation to the logic behind Viking.
Scott and I turned the lab into a classroom where we could all have workstations set up and configured to run Viking.
Robert addressing annotation in Viking. Annotation turns out to be the biggest hurdle in interpretation of complex connectomics datasets.
Dave Marshak from the University of Texas/Houston is a collaborator for an additional connectomics project. So far, the data from this collaboration is absolutely beautiful and we look forward to digging into it.
Nick Brecha from UCLA is interested in collaborating with us on a very exciting aspect of one of several new connectomes being constructed right now. I first had the opportunity to sit down with Nick back at the FASEB meeting in Vermont to talk about some of these issues and had a great time visiting.
Noah is our high school student that just started working in the lab. He is one smart guy and I look forward to seeing where he can go with what he learns in the lab.
Jamie working to make sure that all of the code is fast and works. His is a herculean task trying to make all of this software work together, but as the architect of Viking, he has created an environment that is *the* solution for exploration, annotation and visualization of these complex data.
This is an amazing group of people that Robert Marc has assembled to push forward connectomics in a way that has been unequaled anywhere else on the planet. I can also say that this is the *right* group of people to do this work and they are some of the most pleasant people on the planet to work and spend time with.
There are other notable tools that have been developed and are under active improvement. The ability to graph out connections is one of the most crucial means of displaying complex connectivities. In fact, these connectivities are showing that neural systems are far more sophisticated in their wiring and connectivities than previously thought.
Apropos of nothing, we were sitting by a window in a local brew pub, Red Rock Brewery in Salt Lake City grabbing dinner and a tasty brew one of the evenings when I looked up and really liked the light on James Anderson and Aaron Kian.