The 9th Academy of National Brain Councils (NBCs) took place on 23-24 May 2023 in Brussels, Belgium. The annual meeting brought together NBCs representatives alongside prominent speakers and guests, in-person and remotely, from 15 countries: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Serbia, Sweden and Turkey.

This year’s meeting was preceded by a campaign of engagement with EU policymakers on the EBC-led “Pledge for Science”, calling for the prioritisation of brain research and innovation in the EU. The Pledge was publicly launched that week in response to recent policy developments, particularly those with possible implications for health and research – including a recent European Citizens’ Initiative on “Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics – Commit to a Europe Without Animal Testing”

NBC representatives joined EBC colleagues and invited neuroscientists, clinicians and other experts working in the brain space for a full day of meetings with 35 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from 11 different countries within the European Parliament in Brussels on 23 May 2023. In these meetings, the NBCs delegates met with MEPs from their home country to speak with them about their work and the need for increased recognition and support of brain research, as well as the continued need for animal research, particularly in the brain area. The experts presented and sought support for the Pledge for Science.

The following day, the Academy kicked off with a session on “The New Momentum to develop National Brain Plans”, featuring a presentation by EBC Executive Director, Frédéric Destrebecq, about the WHO Intersectoral Global Action Plan for epilepsy and other neurological conditions. The presentation was followed by interventions from invited speakers’ : Jerome de Barros, Policy Officer, Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (SANTE) – Digital Health, European Commission;Benoit Marchal, Founder, PicAps; and Dr. Irene Kesisoglou, Senior Researcher, Sciensano; who all presented on the European Health Data Space from the perspective of multiple relevant stakeholders: patients, policymakers and researchers. The presentations provided the audience with a general overview of this health specific ecosystem, its risks, benefits, and posed a question of whether the EU is prepared for its full implementation. The . The Academy closed with presentations by several National Brain Councils and National Action Groups, showcasing the latest policy developments in their countries.