Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is FFBO?

The Fruit Fly Brain Observatory is a unique open source platform for studying fruit fly brain function, and for investigating fruit fly brain disease models that are highly relevant to the mechanisms of human neurological and psychiatric disorders.

At the Fruit Fly Brain Observatory (FFBO), our mission is to leverage the smaller but sufficiently complex brain of the fruit fly for investigating the mechanisms of human neurological and psychiatric disorders, such as Epilepsy or Parkinson's disease, at molecular, cellular and circuit levels. The FFBO is an open source software platform that

  • stores and processes data related to the neural circuits of the fly brain including location, morphology, connectivity and biophysical properties of every neuron,
  • seamlessly integrates the structural and genetic data from multiple sources that can be queried, visualized and interpreted,
  • automatically generates models of the fly brain that can be simulated efficiently using multiple Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) to help elucidate the mechanisms of human neurological disorders and identify drug targets.

Why did you choose the fruit fly as model organism?

The brain of the fruit fly serves as a viable model for investigating human neurological and psychiatric disorders. There are many advantages of using the fruit fly as a first step in studying brain function in health and disease, for example:

  • Over 70% of genes involved in human mental disorders have related sequences in the fruit fly.
  • Fruit Flies have small but sufficiently complex brain and nervous system.
  • Powerful toolkit of genetic manipulation techniques have been developed or are under rapid development for the fruit fly.
  • There are no ethical limitations on in vivo experimentation on the fruit fly.
  • The fruit fly has very rapid developmental cycle.

Is the FFBO platform scalable to higher organisms such as mice?

The focus of the FFBO is to create a platform for researchers with different backgrounds to study brain function of a single model organism. As we argued earlier, Drosophila melanogaster is the model organism of choice in the FFBO. However, the FFBO software architecture, was intentionally designed with modularity in mind and thus can be fully extended/scaled up to other model organisms. Adapting/extending the FFBO to other organisms is highly welcomed and encouraged.

Where can I provide feedback?

There are two mechanisms for providing feedbacks. If you prefer an open discussion, the FFBO mailing list can be a good place to start. All posts will be archived and made publicly available. If you prefer to provide feedback privately, you can use the "Leave Feedback" buttons on NeuroNLP and NeuroGFX webpages, respectively. The "Leave Feedback" buttons can be toggled by clicking on the system settings button on the top-left of each application page. You can also communicate directly with any member of the FFBO Teams.

Using FFBO

Where can I find code and documentation of the FFBO?

The FFBO Team strongly believes in open science. That is why we designed the FFBO as an open-source platform. However, since the FFBO is still under active development, certain functionalities and APIs may change, others are not well documented at some point or the other, potentially leading to confusion in their usage. To ensure the best consistency and overall usability of the FFBO platform, our decision was to release all code and data by/during the Fruit Fly Brain Hackathon 2017. Documentation will accompany the code release. As we gradually roll out source code, please check back at the FFBO GitHub site.

Where can I ask questions about FFBO if they are not answered in the FAQ?

Any question about FFBO, including installation, usage, etc., can be asked on the FFBO mailing list. Since all posts on the mailing list are archived, this is the preferred medium for answering questions from all users. You can also communicate directly with any member of the FFBO Teams.

Getting Involved in FFBO Development

How do I contribute biological data?

At this point, the easiest way to contribute biological data is to make it open and downloadable. The FFBO Teams will load your data into the NeuroArch database for your convenience. All sources of data will be acknowledged. As the entire code base will be available by March, we encourage you to load and host your own data.

How do I contribute computational models?

We encourage you to write a Request for Comments (RFC), load your model into the NeuroArch database, and back it up with executable code.

I am interested in the FFBO and I am a software developer. How can I contribute?

There are many aspects of the project that requires the expertise of software developers to develop tools to be used by neurobiologists and computational neuroscientists alike. In the upcoming release of the code and documentation of the FFBO, we will detail the software architecture of FFBO and identify the potential new features and improvements that the community can bring to the platform. We strongly encourage you to attend the Fruit Fly Brain Hackathon 2017.