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Awards and distinctions

9/11/2018

Fabrizio de Vico Fallani wins the Complex System Society's Junior Scientific Award

Fabrizio de Vico Fallani - © Inria / Photo C. Morel

Fabrizio de Vico Fallani, a researcher with the Aramis project team - a joint Inria, CNRS and Sorbonne University team located at the French Brain and Spine Institute (ICM) - has just received the Junior Scientific Award from the Complex Systems Society. Meeting.

What does your research project consist of ?

I am specialised in the understanding of complex systems, and the brain is without doubt the most fascinating example of these. In my research, I endeavour to describe the functioning of this organ as a network. Within the Aramis project team (a joint Inria/CNRS/Inserm/Sorbonne University team), I work with neurologists on a daily basis at the Brain and Spine Institute (ICM). Along with the other researchers in my team, we provide them with theoretical and mathematical tools and together we are progressing in three quite specific directions.

Firstly, Alzheimer's and neurodegenerative diseases, for which we are trying to identify biomarkers for a better understanding of the evolution of the pathologies and to enable the doctors to make earlier diagnoses.  Next, I am working with healthcare professionals on the subject of the reorganisation of the brain following a stroke: we know that when one part is damaged, the neighbouring areas are capable of gradually taking charge of the tasks that are no longer executed, however we do not have a precise understanding of this mechanism. 

Also, in order to guide rehabilitation methods, it is important to properly identify this phenomenon of reorganisation, which is the result of intense communications between several areas of the brain. Finally, I also work a lot on human-computer interactions and on the way in which we can modulate the activity of our brain. I use a headset that captures the signals emitted by the brain in order to make objects move on a screen. My objective is to understand the way in which individuals learn how to use this device and the impact of this learning on the communications in the brain's network. 

What made you want to embark on this adventure ?

I completed my studies, my PhD as well as a first post-doc in Rome: I was already interested in complex networks. The brain is one of these; it could even be compared to a connected object. It is estimated that the human brain is made up of around 100 billion neurons, but we do not know how they communicate between themselves. I wanted to work on the characterisation of this network, and to describe it. At the Fondazione Santa Lucia neuroscientific institute, where I did my post-doc, I was surrounded by doctors and patients suffering from motor disorders or paralyses.

So I was trying to understand what was happening in their brain. However, above all, I observed daily that my neurologist colleagues had an old-style approach and were using rudimentary tools, whereas I was convinced that mathematics could enable them to take a great leap forward.

I was certain that all of the changes in the biological functioning of the brain needed to be measured and quantified in an objective manner, using non-invasive techniques. This is precisely what I am doing today at the ICM, where I provide the doctors with mathematical tools so that, one day, they can offer better treatment to their patients.

What does this award represent for you ?

Firstly, I am very proud to have received this distinction, which rewards all of the work I have done - with my collaborators - until now. Such an event has a massive impact on a researcher's motivation. Above all, I am very happy to note that in the field of the neurosciences, it is now recognised that the understanding of the complex system that is the brain is the way forward in order to ultimately provide patients with better treatment.

It is a relatively new field - about 10 years old at most - that is constantly evolving. The Complex Systems Society presents work in fields as diverse as the arts, the political sciences, medicine...everything around us is complex. This honorary award will be an advantage for me in the future, particularly when I seek funding. 

 

5 key dates : 

  • 2010 :  Fabrizio de Vico Fallani receives an award from the Italian National Group of Bioengineering for his thesis  
  • 2012 :  he joins the Brain and Spine Institute as a post-doc
  • 2014 :  he joins the Aramis project team on a starting research position
  • 2017 :  he obtains a post of researcher at Inria
  • 2018 :  he receives the Complex Systems Society's Junior Scientific Award

Keywords: Fabrizio de Vico Fallani Inria Paris Junior Scientific Award Complex Systems

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