The bi-annual Federation of European Neuroscience Society (FENS) Forum, the largest international neuroscience meeting in Europe, was held on 11-15 July 2020. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the FENS Forum was held entirely virtually, making it accessible from all over the world and giving access to all sessions, lectures, events and the exhibition hall up to three months afterwards.

In this context, EBC organized a series of activities within the Forum, particularly on the topic of Global Brain Research Collaboration on 13 July, highlighting the importance of creating partnerships within research, with a focus on brain research. The event brought together leading healthcare stakeholders and policymakers from the European Union, the United States, China and international organisations, showing the urgency of international cooperation in the world of brain research.

The event was chaired by Prof Monica Di Luca, EBC President, and featured seven video messages from Mr Carlos Morais Pires, Cabinet Member of Commissioner Mariya Gabriel; Prof Carmen Sandi, President of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies; Dr Walter J. Koroshetz, Director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the U.S. National Institutes of Health; Prof Barry Everitt, President of the Society for Neuroscience; Mr Linhao Chen, Deputy Director General of International Cooperation within the Ministry of Science and Technology in China; Mr Quan Zhang, Director of Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality, and Dr Caroline Montojo, from the Kavli Foundation and International Brain Initiative. All the international guests shared their visions from a different point of view on the role of international cooperation in the constant progress of brain research.

The international perspective was provided by Prof Tracy Bale, President of the International Brain Research Organisation and Prof Mohamed Hassan, President of the World Academy of Sciences. Both spoke on the work their organisations are doing to support science worldwide and provide for international exchange and cooperation everywhere.

The EBC-led European Brain Research Area (EBRA) project was also featured, standing as a clear example of European coordination efforts in the brain research field.

All videos can be viewed here.

“By pulling together and coordinating our efforts, we can create a world where brain disorders are just a distant memory.”

Mr Carlos Morais Pires
Member of the Cabinet of Commissioner Mariya Gabriel

During the presentation, the new European Brain Research Area (EBRA) video was released to the audience for the first time, giving a more detailed glance to the vision and the goals of the project, as well as the new developments of SEBRA. EBRA aims to reduce fragmentation in brain research and foster synergies through enhanced coordination of brain research efforts at the EU and global levels. In order to foster alignment and better co-ordination of research strategies across the European brain initiatives, a Shared European Brain Research Agenda (SEBRA) will be developed under the EBRA project. The SEBRA will focus on research opportunities and research and innovation gaps to be addressed in the field, priorities for action in the short and long term and research areas that would benefit most from cross – initiatives cooperation.

The session ended with a discussion involving Monica Di Luca, EBC President; Frédéric Destrebecq, EBC Executive Director; Prof Mu-ming Poo, Founding Director of the Shanghai-based Institute of Neuroscience (ION) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences; and Dr Tomás Ryan, Chair of the FENS-Kavli Network of Excellence. After a stimulating conversation on how existing global research collaboration can support brain research, the guests replied to all the questions of the public during a live Q&A.