UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


COVID-19 and mental health: Human Brain Project welcomes new EU-funded research programmes

8 October 2021

We're delighted to announce that a proposal by UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology researchers answering the Human Brain Project’s (HBP) calls for expression of interest (CEol) on “COVID-19 and its impact on brain and mental health” has been selected for EC funding.

human brain project

Two proposals were selected for European Commission (EC) funding totaling nearly EUR 450 000. The sum will be divided between the two projects.

The Human Brain Project (HBP) is the largest brain science project in Europe and stands among the biggest research projects ever funded by the European Union. It is one of the three FET Flagship Projects of the EU. At the interface of neuroscience and information technology, the HBP investigates the brain and its diseases with the help of highly advanced methods from computing, neuroinformatics and artificial intelligence, and drives innovation in fields like brain-inspired computing and neurorobotics.

Funding within this third Specific Grant Agreement (SGA3) will run between December 2021 and March 2023, and is subject to the successful signature of relevant agreements with the EC and the HBP consortium. Once these conditionalities are cleared, the two new projects will be regarded as partners and integrated into the HBP consortium.

This HBP CEol was launched between March 2021 and April 2021, and 12 eligible projects were admitted. The two that were eventually selected are also expected to contribute to the development of the EBRAINS research infrastructure set up by the HBP. They have the potential to increase the scope of EBRAINS’ applications in terms of innovation, neuroscience and clinical research.

ebrains logo
EBRAINS is a new digital research infrastructure, created by the EU-funded Human Brain Project, to foster brain-related research and to help translate the latest scientific discoveries into innovation in medicine and industry, for the benefit of patients and society. It draws on cutting-edge neuroscience and offers an extensive range of brain data sets, a multilevel brain atlas, modelling and simulation tools, easy access to high-performance computing resources and to robotics and neuromorphic platforms.


UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology proposal: MODEL-COV

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the virus can also impact the human brain to the point that those affected continue to suffer from prolonged symptoms such as loss of smell and fatigue. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows for comparisons between brain properties in people who had COVID-19 and those who did not. By using cutting edge imaging protocols and advanced tools developed by EBRAINS, the MODEL-COV project can study in detail how COVID-19 might have changed the brain, and try to explain the persistence of symptoms. 

This project can mathematically model how the COVID-19-affected brain works, compared to a generic unaffected brain. This could then enable health and science to work together to reverse such negative changes. The impact on society would be major, as humanity is currently unsure of the nature of COVID-19 effects on the brain.

  • The coordinator of the project is Professor Claudia Wheeler-Kingshott (UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology)
  • Its partners are at the University of Pavia, Department of Brain and Behavioral Sciences (UNIPV), Italy.