KT, which recently picked healthcare as one of its five future-oriented convergence services, participates in connectome research for the first time in the private corporate sector. Connectome research is done to find out how the 100 billion neurons in the human brain are connected and to map their functions. The biggest scientific revolution since the genome project is expected to contribute greatly to the fight against terminal diseases.
The telecoms operator invited Princeton University neuroscience professor Sebastian Seung to its main office in Seoul and signed an agreement for mutual cooperation on August 12, so that more people can join EyeWire, which is a civil participation game for the completion of the connectome.
The online game, assuming a key role in the research, is the world’s first game-based realization of the 3D imaging of nerve cells. The game was developed so that the general public can get familiar with the concept of a connectome, which was devised as a brain map by the professor two years ago.
Until now, more than 140,000 people from 100 or so countries have participated in EyeWire to fill in the connectome of the retinal nerve of a mouse. Once completed, it will be basic data for the research of the entire brain.
“The Korean language is the second one in EyeWire, following English, courtesy of the dedicated support of KT,” the professor explained, adding, “I expect it to take two years to complete the connectome but I believe that Koreans’ participation will move up the schedule significantly.”
KT is planning to provide marketing channels and infrastructure for EyeWire, while encouraging more Koreans to take part in it. In the long term, it is going to launch healthcare projects in combination with information and communications technology and contribute to the completion of the brain map ahead of schedule.
In this vein, it will translate EyeWire into the Korean language and help college students act as honorary ambassadors for it. Also, it is planning to make use of its telecoms service infrastructure and social networking services to encourage more people to join the research.