Skip to main content


Social Innovation

Co-creation, data management and storage solutions support neuroscience at Queensland Brain Institute

Co-creation between Hitachi companies, partners and customers like the Queensland Brain Institute, is advancing the technology that underpins neuroscience and disease research, supporting the ground-breaking discoveries that will lead to much-needed treatments and cures.

Why do some people fall ill with depression, anxiety or schizophrenia? What makes some more susceptible to dementia, Alzheimer’s, and diseases like ALS and Parkinson’s than others? The truth is, there are still many mysteries about the brain and how it actually works.

More than 10.6 million Australians were affected with brain disorders in 2017, and the associated economic burden topped $74 billion that year. As the population ages and people are living longer, the number of Australians afflicted with dementia is expected to triple to 900 thousand by 20501. Yet many existing treatments for illnesses or conditions that affect the brain are old or not effective enough. For some, there are no identified treatments at all.

Neurological, mental health and substance use disorders are expected to have a greater cost to the economy than heart disease, cancer, and respiratory disease combined.2 The monetary costs pale in comparison to the impacts on those who suffer from these disorders, and their loved ones.

Australian Brain Disorder and Disease Stats [Source: Queensland Brain Institute]

  • 1 in 7 will experience depression in their lifetime
  • More than 1600 are diagnosed with brain cancer each year
  • One in 10 will experience a seizure in their lifetime, with 3-4% diagnosed with epilepsy
  • Each day 2 people die from and 2 people are diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease (MND), also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • 50,000 people suffer a stroke each year
  • Approximately a quarter of a million experience the effects of Alzheimer’s

Thankfully, neuroscience technology is rapidly advancing, allowing researchers to study the brain at all different levels and with a variety of approaches. This work is critical to Australians and the global community. Yet researchers cannot achieve scientific discoveries without the technology to support their efforts.

Neuroscience is now a partnership between biology, engineering and computation. Success will be achieved through co-creation and collaboration between science and industry, and Hitachi is playing a role working with customers such as the Queensland Brain Institute.

Scientific discovery literally can’t happen in this day and age without the technology to underpin it with extreme capability. - Jake Carroll, Associate Director of Institutes Research Computing at the University of Queensland.

The Queensland Brain Institute (QBI), at the University of Queensland in Australia, was established in 2003 and is home to nearly 500 scientists and 42 laboratory leaders. Its researchers have made important advances towards the understanding, diagnoses and treatment of diseases such as ageing dementia, schizophrenia and motor neurone disease.

QBI’s activities range from basic biology to genomics, complex imaging, electrophysiology and super-resolution microscopy. All this very quickly adds up to massive data storage and management requirements.

Put it this way: at QBI there are hundreds of researchers running simultaneous simulations. Just one of its devices can generate seven terabytes of data in an hour. Another experiment produces 500 terabytes each day. They’re using supercomputers to run analyses against the data produced by each of their research devices, and even applying modern day analytics to historical data to revisit archived brain images for new insights. Over the years, QBI’s has generated 22 petabytes of unstructured research data. That’s over three million hours of constant Ultra HD streaming on a popular video streaming service.3

Remember that ‘rapidly advancing’ neuroscience technology mentioned above? The technology and tools that allow researchers to undertake the study of neuroscience continue to allow more comprehensive interrogation of different parts of the brain, yielding more and deeper data for analysis. Simply put, that means QBI’s massive data management requirements are only going to grow. Exponentially.

Finding an effective solution falls to Jake Carroll, Associate Director of Institutes Research Computing at the University of Queensland. His job is to ensure QBI’s technology and infrastructure works as fast as it can to make its researcher’s work go as fast as it can – without bottlenecks – so they can achieve a better time to discovery.

They can’t do it alone. To deliver the right technology mix to meet the Institute’s increasing data management requirements, QBI turned to long-standing technology partners including Hitachi Group company, Hitachi Vantara, to help co-create a tangible solution.

Professor Pankaj Sah, Director at Queensland Brain Institute said before this co-creation effort, there were studies the Institute wanted to undertake but they couldn’t handle the extreme computing and data requirements. Now QBI researchers can generate more detailed, wide-ranging and interesting questions of the data they capture every day. This means more complex studies can be undertaken, more quickly. For example. a clinical study collecting, transferring and analysing data on 10 patients used to take nearly six months. Now it can be realistically completed in one week; a fraction of the time previously needed!

Neuroscience at QBI is supported by data management technology and infrastructure co-created with Hitachi Vantara and others within its partner ecosystem, who are willing to explore the edges and boundaries of neuroscientific research computing.

The Queensland Brain Institute researchers now enjoy improved capabilities for conducting research with high value to society, as well as the ability to publish pioneering research and compete for the critical grants that keep the life-saving work going.


  1. KPMG & Mindgardens Neuroscience White Paper 2019
  2. Ibid.
  3. NBN Research: Data – Streaming Videos, Movies & TV 2018

Solution By: Hitachi Vantara ANZ

  • The National Library of New Zealand

    Preserving a nation’s digital cultural heritage

    Digitalisation is more than a business concept. It’s a way to ensure our collective culture is archived and accessible for future generations.

  • AutoHaul Train

    Creating the world's largest Robot

    Technology from Hitachi Group company Hitachi Rail STS has enabled Rio Tinto to create the first automated heavy-haul long distance rail network; improving operational efficiency, safety and sustainability.

  • Creating the Future of Agriculture

    Creating the Future of Agriculture

    Hitachi have looked at ways in which technological advancements can redefine the way of farming practices for greater sustainability and resilience.

  • Hitachi-powered smart campus

    Hitachi-powered smart campus helps Curtin University plan for the future

    Curtin University using a range of technologies from Hitachi that enable to gather data, at an unprecedented level of granularity, on how staff and students use its facilities, and then to analyse that data for insights to support its planning.

  • Mining Solutions

    Hitachi is Transforming the Mining Landscape

    Hitachi’s Autonomous Haulage System is providing enormous benefits to resource companies keen to enhance productivity and reduce costs.

  • Hitachi enables precision agriculture

    Hitachi enables precision agriculture with the Quasi-Zenith Satellite System

    Hitachi is working to enable farmers to eliminate this problem through a combination of image recognition, artificial intelligence, data analytics and satellite positioning with accuracy far superior to that provided by GPS.

  • Cancer Treatment

    Cancer Treatment Brings Hope

    An advanced form of cancer therapy is giving fresh hope to sufferers, particularly children and those with previously untreatable forms of cancer.

  • Smart Farming

    Smart Farming Software Sorts the Wheat from the Chaff

    A new software solution from Hitachi is helping Australian farmers make smarter choices on their quest for digital transformation.

  • Queensland's Tilt Train

    Queensland’s Tilt Train – safe and speedy with Hitachi technology

    Queensland Rail’s Tilt Train uses technology designed, manufactured and delivered by Hitachi, which makes each carriage tilt to enable the trains to go faster round curves, providing greater comfort for the passengers.

  • Vein scanning

    Vein scanning simplifies staff rostering and payment

    Hitachi has helped STAR Tasmania reduce human resource costs through FingerVeinID technology, meaning they can continue their great work supporting Tasmanians with disabilities.