What is Brain Awareness Week?

Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is the global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research. Founded in 1996 by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, BAW unites the efforts of partner organizations from around the world in a week-long celebration of the brain every March. Partners include universities, hospitals, K-12 schools, advocacy groups, government agencies, service organizations, professional groups, and affiliates.

During BAW, partners organize creative and innovative activities in their communities to educate and excite people of all ages about the brain and the promise of brain research. Activities are limited only by the organizers’ imaginations.

The Dana Alliance invites all organizations to join the growing ranks of partners worldwide. By being a part of this global effort, partners add their voice to the message of hope that brain research brings—a message that will have even greater impact when delivered in concert with thousands of other voices from around the world.

As part of Brain Awareness week, EBC organized a lunch debate, held at The University Foundation, Brussels on 14 March, 2017. The subject of the debate was “Expanding Brain Research in Europe: A societal Need?”


The main objectives of the event were to:
  • Highlight the growing societal need to expand brain research in Europe, and provide an open forum for policymakers and relevant stakeholders to discuss and debate on the subject.
  • Provide a forum for discussion of all stakeholders involved in order to raise awareness and create ways of collaboration, as well as encouragement for all sides to act.
  • Recognize brain disorders as social and economic burdens, and that the expansion of brain research is vital.
  • To start a conversation and work in alignment with the EU institutions relevant to health and research.

EBC Executive Director Frédéric Destrebecq introduced and moderated the event, which involved a panel of three guest speakers, each addressing the subject from their own standpoint: Hilkka Kärkkäinen, President of Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks-Europe (GAMIAN)-Europe spoke about Research in Mental Health and the patient’s involvement, reminding us that the patients themselves are also experts; Alexander Schubert, Executive Director of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) spoke about the challenges to innovation in brain research.


Lars Kristiansen, Executive Director of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) addressed the societal impact and the need to strengthen brain research in Europe; Stéphane Hogan, Head of Sector for Neurosciences at the European Commission Directorate-General for Research & Innovation ‎(DG Research) finished with a presentation on the work of The European Commission’s DG Research and Innovation, giving us the policymakers’ perspective and response.  The presentations were followed by contributions from the audience and general discussion among panelists and audience members.


The event proved to be highly successful with insightful presentations, interesting discussion,  and great networking opportunities during the walking lunch that followed.

(Left to right: Lars Kristiansen, Alexander Schubert, Hilkka Kärkkäinen, Frederic Destrebecq and Stephane Hogan)

Find out about Brain Awareness Week in France here.