The BrainGlobe Initiative (BGI) was established by researchers at the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre and the Technical University of Munich.

We were developing software for the analysis and visualisation of neuroanatomical data (e.g. cellfinder and brainrender) when we realised that these tools were limited in their impact. Like the majority of tools in the field, they were limited to a single brain atlas in one species, and they weren’t compatible or interoperable with any other software.

To solve this problem, we developed the BrainGlobe Atlas API. This API provides a common interface for programmers to download and process brain atlas data from multiple sources. All BrainGlobe software is built around this API, which means that all the software is compatible, and can be used with different atlases, in different species.


In addition to developing our own software, we are working to build a community of neuroscientists and developers to leverage the vast data analysis ecosystem in Python for the analysis of neuroanatomical data. To catalyse this we aim to “fill the gaps” where tools don’t exist, and develop frameworks to facilitate collaboration. Our key future aims are:

  • To enable use of BGI tools across neuroscience by supporting all available high-quality neuroanatomical atlases
  • To reduce barriers of entry and make sure BGI tools are accessible to all
  • To ensure BGI tools and atlases can be incorporated into varied workflows to leverage the open-source image analysis community