Uncontrollable muscle spasms or other symptoms caused by a sudden rush of electrical activity in the brain – epilepsy impacts around 50 million people worldwide. Another brain condition, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), affects impulsivity, attention span and levels of physical activity in around 2% of children and adolescents. Studying these brain disorders is the work of Georgian scientist Irma Khachidze. Supported by the Georgian Research and Educational Networking Association GRENA within the EU-funded EaPConnect project and its ‘Enlighten Your Research’ programme, she has been preparing the ground for novel computational methods to study such brain disorders in Georgia.
In her capacity as the main research scientist at the Beritashvili Centre of Experimental Biomedicine and as professor at the Caucasus University, Tbilisi, Irma Khachidze has actively been involved in research processes during her career. She eagerly shares her experiences among her students, both of clinical studies and basic science, with the purpose of educating the younger generation. She notes: “I study EEG (electroencephalography) patterns in patients with epilepsy and investigate EEG biomarkers in children with ADHD in clinical settings”. Within this collaborative framework, Irma has been preparing the ground for these computational approaches to brain research in Georgia.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the EaPConnect project and GRENA for enabling me to use computing and storage resources to promote international research that has enlarged my knowledge and experience. This has built on the existing collaboration for sharing data with international partners for finding EEG biomarkers, which helps to develop criteria for more adequate assessment of the degree of brain dysfunction”, Irma Kachidze says.
GRENA supported Irma’s research by providing technical assistance and computing resources for the establishment of an online EEG database portal, EEGHUB.GE. This support began when Irma was selected as a winner of the 2018 ‘Enlighten Your Research’ programme within the EaPConnect project, which connects Eastern Partnership (EaP) research and education communities with the global information society as part of the European Union’s EU4Digital initiative.
According to Irma Khachidze, such EU programmes promote the benefits of computer network resources to researchers, provide wide opportunities and raise awareness in the field of education, science, infrastructures, services and culture. Additionally, she says, taking part in EaPConnect greatly assists Georgian scientists (especially women) in integrating with the EU scientific / academic space.
“As an Enlighten Your Research programme winner, the positive changes associated with it will be extremely important for me to use in the benefit of Georgia”.
Irma’s lectures motivate students and promote the use of computer network resources to foster international research and collaboration opportunities for the generation of young scholars to come. Ms. Khachidze has involved young scholars in implementing the EEGHUB.GE portal project, and that project has served as a precondition for further work.
EEGHUB.GE has been selected by the EU-funded NI4OS-Europe (National Initiatives for Open Science in Europe) project as a thematic service that will be integrated into the European Open Science Cloud, EOSC. NI4OS-Europe aims to provide data-driven research for European sciences using EOSC. Irma Khachidze will lead this EEGHUB.GE service, which will be implemented in EOSC with GRENA’s infrastructure and expert support.
EEGHUB.GE is the first electronic EEG database in Georgia that is systematised, stored and placed in EDF format. The service is free of charge for European and local scientists and is based on FAIR principles (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable).
With advantages and issues learned about in the course of the project, Irma Khachidze has shared her findings in various scientific publications. These have increased awareness among relevant local and international research and education communities about the EEGHUB.GE portal, the project to create it, and the ways in which it can contribute to helping people with conditions like ADHD and epilepsy.
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