The Human Brain Project (HBP), a humongous, controversial research project backed by the European Union, must reform to stay on course, a review panel has recommended—and it must do so fast. A summary of the panel's report, published today by the European Commission, says a series of "corrective actions" needs to be taken in HBP's governance, the way it collaborates, and its communication.
The report doesn't directly address last year's revolt against HBP by a group of European neuroscientists, but appears to address several of their concerns. "We are very pleased, because it's confirming the problems that we have been pointing out," says computational neuroscientist Alexandre Pouget of the University of Geneva in Switzerland, one of the critics. "They are making the exact same points we have made."
But Philippe Gillet, chairman of the HBP's board of directors, says the review isn't unusually critical and that HBP welcomes the suggestions. "We are ranked as a good project, but [the review panel] gives us some tasks," Gillet says. "You never get a perfect review in science."
The panel says HBP's governance must be changed "to ensure that decision making processes are simple, fair and transparent," and that various HBP subprojects must work together better. Key changes must be implemented by June 2015, according to the 5-page summary, which uses the words "as quickly as possible" or "as soon as possible" five times.