Giorgio Ascoli

University Professor, Volgenau Bioengineering Department, George Mason University
Founding Director, Center for Neural Informatics, Structures, & Plasticity (CN3)
Director, Computational Neuroanatomy Group (CNG)

Founding Editor-in-Chief, Neuroinformatics

The main effort of Dr. Ascoli's lab is to connect the cellular organization of brain networks to cognitive functions such as learning and memory. His laboratory hosts and curates a central inventory of digitally reconstructed neurons in NeuroMorpho.Org and Hippocampome knowledge  base and has developed L-Neuron, a neuron modeling  tool. His  long-term scientific and philosophical goal consists in establishing a working model for the highest cognitive functions such as human consciousness.

Mason Neuroscience

The Neuroscience Program at George Mason University, under the auspices of the Neuroscience Advisory Council (NAC), brings together experimental and theoretical scientists from the College of Science, College of Humanities and Social Science, Volgenau School of Engineering, and the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Studies.

Some of the key research centers include: Center for Neural Informatics, Structures, and Plasticity (CN3); Center for the Study of Neuroeconomics (CSNI); Center for Neural Dynamics (CND); and the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine (CAPMM).

Hippocampome Portal

The Hippocampome is a curated knowledge base of the circuitry of the hippocampus of normal adult, or adolescent, rodents at the mesoscopic level of neuronal types.

Knowledge concerning dentate gyrus, CA3, CA2, CA1, subiculum, and entorhinal cortex is distilled from published evidence and is continuously updated as new information becomes available. Each reported neuronal property is documented with a pointer to, and excerpt from, relevant published evidence, such as citation quotes or illustrations.

Link to Hippocampome Hub

NeuroMorpho.Org is a centrally curated inventory of digitally reconstructed neurons associated with peer-reviewed publications. It contains contributions from over 200 laboratories worldwide and is continuously updated.

NeuroMorpho.Org is the largest collection of publicly accessible 3D neuronal reconstructions. The goal of NeuroMorpho.Org is to provide dense coverage of available reconstruction data for the neuroscience community enabling the full and continuing research potential of existing digital reconstruction data.



This year Hanchuan Peng (Allen Institute for Brain Science) began the next phase of the effort called BigNeuron. However, rather than a competition, this time the project would be a collaboration.

The key idea is to create a single platform on which all algorithms can be run, compared, and their results combined to form reconstructions better than any one could achieve alone.

Link to BigNeuron Hub

See also Allen Cell Type Data Bases post.

Computational Neuroanatomy Group – GMU

The Computational Neuroanatomy Group, part of CN3 and the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Studies at George Mason University, is a multidisciplinary research team devoted to the study of basic neuroscience.

We are specifically interested in the description and generation of dendritic morphology, and in its effect on neuronal electrophysiology. In the long term, we seek to create large-scale, anatomically plausible neural networks to model entire portions of a mammalian brain (such as a hippocampal slice, or a cortical column).

Nathalia Peixoto

Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department
Neural Engineering Lab

Dr. Peixoto's research interests include implantable electrodes and systems, hybrid systems (cell cultures and electronics), control of assistive technology, bioMEMS (bio-micro-electro-mechanical systems), and experimental models of neuropathologies such as epilepsy and spreading depression.

Crowdsourcing Brain Data

Mason neuroscientist Giorgio Ascoli is working on another complexity related to the brain — how to handle the massive amount of data researchers are creating on a near-daily basis.

National Academies Keck Futures Initiative is a step toward giving researchers another tool in their work. It’s a data overload worth organizing because, as Ascoli points out, such a “knowledge base” could reveal patterns, show untapped areas for future research and cut duplication.

Jane Flinn

Associate Professor, Psychology Department, George Mason University
Director, GMU Undergraduate Neuroscience Program
Director, Flinn Lab

Dr. Flinn’s research has emphasized the roles of zinc, copper and iron in learning and memory and also in macular degeneration. Her research currently focuses on two specific aspects of metals in behavior, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and the extinction of learned fears.

Trees of the Brain Presentation

Mason Publishing, the George Mason University Libraries, and the University Bookstore present Mason University Professor Giorgio Ascoli, and his book Trees of the Brain, Roots of the Mind, in the kickoff of the Mason Author Series.

This inaugural event of the series, which is sponsored by the George Mason University Bookstore, was held in the Fenwick Library Main Reading Room, on Tuesday, March 29th, at 2:30 p.m.

Ted Dumas

Associate Professor, Molecular Neuroscience Department, Krasnow Institute
Principal Investigator, Physiological and Behavioral Neuroscience in Juveniles Lab (PBNJ)

Dr. Dumas research focuses on neural substrates of memory, neural and cognitive development, stress and behavioral control, real-time brain activity focus in a multidisciplinary setting.

Martin Wiener

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychology, George Mason University
AAAS Fellow, Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering
Division of Information and Intelligent Systems Class of 2015

Dr. Wiener's research entailed neuroscientific investigations into the neural bases of time perception and rhythmic processing, where he utilized a number of techniques, including neurogenetics, functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.

Kabbani Lab research

Director, Dr. Nadine Kabbani

It is through science that we prove, but through intuition that we discover.

-Henri Poincare

Nadine Kabbani

Associate Professor, Molecular Neuroscience Department, Krasnow Institute of Advanced Studies
Director, GMU Program in Neuroethics

Dr. Kabbani's research focuses on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of nicotinic receptor drug actions in the brain and immune system.

Todd Gillette

Future Technical Leader, Northrop Grumman
Curator, Neuroscience Knowledge Network (NKN)
PhD, Neurscience, George Mason University

Todd's dissertation was titled "Comparative topological analysis of neuronal arbors via sequence representation and alignment".

In addition to being the lead curator for NKN, Todd is overseeing the development of the Neuroscience Aircasts.

Todd has participated in the Allen Institute BigNeuron hackathon at Janelia and will be involved in the Oak Ridge hackathon Nov. 16-20, 2015.

David Hamilton

PhD C, Neuroscience at George Mason University
Dissertation title: "Machine-readable Knowledge Management of Neuron Properties."

David said "Neuroscience is the most interesting and potentially useful field of study available to me at this stage in my career. I was trained as an electrical engineer, worked most of my life as a software engineer, but desire to learn how the brain works to glean useful architectural aspects for continued advancement in problem solving."

Michael Pritz

Affiliate: Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, Deparment of Bioengineering, George Mason University
Principal Investigator: Developmental Evolutionary Neurobiology Lab

Dr. Pritz's research investigates the development and evolution of vertebrate brains.   The present focus is on two areas: (1.) forebrain organization and development in a model vertebrate system and (2.) general principles that underlie the formation of brain nuclei. He also teaches a course on mammalian neurobiolgy.

Rubén Armañanzas

Research Assistant Professor, Center for Neural Informatics, Neural Structures, and Neural Plasticity of the Krasnow Institute at George Mason University.

Dr. Armañanzas research topics include machine learning, computational neuroscience, and neuroinformatics. In particular, applications within these topics are: knowledge discovery in digital neuronal reconstructions, automatic classification of neuronal types, complex neuromorphic networks, and unveiling key aspects of neuronal morphogenesis in the developing brain.

Keivan Moradi

Research Assistant:
PhD Candidate: Theoretical, Computational & Physiological Neuroscience and Research Assistant, George Mason University


Sridevi Polavaram

Research Faculty & Software Engineer, Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, George Mason University.

Dr. Polavaram received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from George Mason University, she has been working for over a decade in the field of Computational Neuroanatomy and Neuroinformatics providing services in software engineering, data management, analytics,  visualization, and applied ontologies. Her current area of research investigates biologically meaningful morphological patterns derived from digitally reconstructed neuronal arbors representing the cellular diversity of the nervous system.

Sumit Nanda

Graduate Research Assistant, Krasnow Institute of Advanced Study
PhD candidate
, George Mason University

Sumit Nanda research focuses on modelling and simulation of dendritic morphology.

Harold Morowitz (1928-2016)

Founding Director, Krasnow Institute for Advanced Studies
Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University
Eminent Scholar, GMU Molecular Neuroscience Department and Robinson Fellow

Biophysicist Harold Morowitz became a Robinson Professor after a long career of teaching and research at Yale University as Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and serving for five years as Master of Pierson College. Dr. Morowitz was interested in philosophical foundations of neurobiology and the problem of consciousness.

Flinn Lab – GMU

Director, Jane Flinn

The Flinn Lab is interested in the biological bases of learning and memory. Current research focuses on the role of metals in normal memory and in Alzheimer's disease (AD).

Zinc, iron and copper are all elevated in the plaques found in the brains of people with AD.

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