Allen Institute for Brain Science
The Allen Institute for Brain Science is a Seattle-based independent, nonprofit medical research organization dedicated to accelerating the understanding of how the human brain works. The Allen Institute promotes the advance of brain research by providing free data and tools to scientists worldwide with the aim of catalyzing discovery in disparate research programs and disease areas.
Started with $100 million in seed money from philanthropist Paul Allen in 2003, the Institute tackles projects at the leading edge of science—far-reaching projects at the intersection of biology and technology. The resulting data create free, publicly available resources that fuel discovery for countless researchers.
Online public resources
The Allen Institute for Brain Science provides researchers and educators with a variety of unique online public resources for exploring the nervous system. Integrating extensive gene expression data and neuroanatomy, complete with sophisticated data search and viewing tools, these resources are all openly accessible via the Allen Brain Atlas data portal.
Allen Mouse Brain Atlas
The inaugural project of the Allen Institute was announced on September 26, 2006. Named the Allen Brain Atlas, it was a web-based, three-dimensional map of gene expression in the mouse brain detailing more than 21,000 genes at the cellular level.
Since the project’s launch, it has been renamed the Allen Mouse Brain Atlas to distinguish it from subsequent Atlas projects.
Allen Spinal Cord Atlas
On 16 July 2008, the Allen Institute for Brain Science launched the online "Allen Spinal Cord Atlas." The spinal cord atlas is an interactive, genome-wide map showing where each gene is expressed, or "turned on", throughout the mouse spinal cord. It is set up like the Allen Institute's earlier atlas of the adult mouse brain. The map could help reveal new treatments for human neurological disorders. The map points researchers toward places where genes are active
The Allen Spinal Cord Atlas led to the discovery of a new class of cells in the spinal cord that behave like stem cells, according to researchers at the University of British Columbia. Jane Roskams, the neuroscientist who led the study, said that, “By using the Allen Spinal Cord Atlas, we were able to discover a brand new cell type that has previously been overlooked and that could be an important player in all manner of spinal cord injury and disease, including multiple sclerosis and ALS.”
Allen Developing Mouse Brain Atlas
On November 14, 2008, the Allen Institute for Brain Science announced the launch of the Allen Developing Mouse Brain Atlas, providing a highly detailed map of gene activity in the mouse brain at several time points across development, including four embryonic ages, three postnatal, and aging time points. The in situ hybridization data is accompanied by a set of reference atlases drawn by neuroanatomist Luis Puelles.
Allen Human Brain Atlas
On May 24, 2010, the Allen Institute announced it was expanding its tools from the mouse into the human brain with the launch of the Allen Human Brain Atlas. This highly comprehensive atlas integrates several different kinds of data, including data collected by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), diffusion tensor technology (DTI), as well as histology and gene expression data derived from both microarray and in situ hybridization (ISH) approaches.
The Allen Human Brain Atlas allows researchers to see where a gene is turned on. “The location of where these genes are active is at the very center of understanding how brain diseases work,” neurologist Jeffrey L. Noebels told the Wall Street Journal in April 2011.
Allen Mouse Brain Connectivity Atlas
The Allen Mouse Brain Connectivity Atlas was launched online on November 3, 2011, and moved the Allen Institute’s mapping efforts beyond its historical focus on gene expression toward neural circuitry. The atlas is a three-dimensional, high-resolution map of neural connections throughout the mouse brain, designed to help scientists understand how the brain is wired, offering new insights into how the brain works and what goes awry in brain diseases and disorders.
Other online resources
In addition to the Atlas resources, the Allen Institute has generated several other online research tools, including:
- The Ivy Glioblastoma Atlas Project (Ivy GAP), a unique platform for exploring the anatomic and genetic basis of glioblastoma at the cellular and molecular levels.
- The BrainSpan Atlas of the Developing Human Brain, a resource for studying human brain development developed by a consortium of scientific partners and funded by awards from the National Institutes of Health. The resource is available at the Allen Brain Atlas site, as well as at www.brainspan.org
- The NIH Blueprint Non-Human Primate (NHP) Atlas, created by the Allen Institute for Brain Science in partnership with researchers at the University of California at Davis under a contract from the NIH as an atlas of gene expression in the developing rhesus macaque brain. This resource is available via the Allen Brain Atlas portal or directly at www.blueprintnhpatlas.org
- Forbes – 30 Under 30 Rising Stars Transforming Science and Health to Allen Institute scientist Adrian Cheng (2012)
- Cajal Club – Krieg Lifetime Achievement Award to Paul Allen for extraordinary contributions in neuroscience through his work with the Allen Institute (2010)
- American Academy of Neurology – Public Leadership in Neurology Award to Paul Allen for his strong commitment to brain research and work with the Allen Institute (2009)
- Time Magazine – “Top 100 Most Influential People in the World” to Paul Allen for his successful achievements at the Allen Institute (2008, 2007)
- Time Magazine – “Top Ten Medical Breakthroughs” (2006)
- Wired Magazine – Rave Award to Paul Allen and the Allen Institute for the completion of the Allen Mouse Brain Atlas (2007)
- Society for Neuroscience – Special Recognition Award to Paul Allen for his generous contributions to neuroscience through his work with the Allen Institute (2007)
- USA Weekend – “Top 10 Medical Breakthroughs of the Year” for the Allen Mouse Brain Atlas (2006)
The Allen Institute for Brain Science was launched in 2003 with seed funding from founder and philanthropist Paul Allen and is supported by a diversity of public and private funds.The Institute employs a unique business model, marrying the operational agility and accountability of a for-profit enterprise with the founding vision to take on ambitious, unprecedented projects at the leading edge of neuroscience.
In 2012, the institute received an additional pledge of $300 million from Paul Allen.
- alleninstitute.org, Public Resources overview
- alleninstitute.org, "Allen Institute for Brain Science completes brain atlas"
- Donor Acknowledgments for Allen Spinal Cord Atlas
- msnbc.com staff and news service reports (2006-09-26). "Institute unveils full atlas of mouse brain - Technology & science - Science | NBC News". MSNBC. Retrieved 2012-09-25.
- "Gene Search :: Spinal Cord". Mousespinal.brain-map.org. Retrieved 2012-09-25.
- "Gene map charts spinal cord mysteries - Health - Health care - More health news | NBC News". MSNBC. 2008-07-17. Retrieved 2012-09-25.
- "MapQuest For The Mouse Spinal Cord". Science News. Retrieved 2012-09-25.
- Science Daily, "New class of stem cell-like cells discovered offers possibility for spinal cord repair"
- alleninstitute.org, "Allen Institute for Brain Science launches new atlas resource and enhances others with new data and tools"
- Thompson CL, Ng, L, et. al. (2014) A high-resolution spatiotemporal atlas of gene expression of the developing mouse brain. Neuron 83(2):309-23.
- alleninstitute.org, "Allen Institute for Brain Science launches Allen Human Brain Atlas with first data set charting genes at work in the adult human brain"
- alleninstitute.org, "Allen Institute for Brain Science announces first comprehensive gene map of the human brain"
- Wall Street Journal, "Atlas Gives Scientists New View of the Brain"
- Nature, "An anatomically comprehensive atlas of the adult human brain transcriptome"
- alleninstitute.org, "Allen Institute for Brain Science launches new brain atlas and updates four others with new data and tools"
- alleninstitute.org, "Twentieth public data release by Allen Institute for Brain Science includes Allen Human Brain Atlas enhancements and two new online resources"
- alleninstitute.org, "Public data release from Allen Institute for Brain Science enhances Allen Brain Atlas resources"
- "Paul Allen gives $300 million to expand brain research". Reuters. 23 March 2012.
- Official website
- Allen Brain Atlas data portal
- PBS NewsHour, "Gene Map of Brain Offers Hope for Alzheimer's, Autism"
- Wired feature