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EBC is pleased to hold a Panel Discussion ‘Toward the BrainHealth Partnership at the upcoming ECNP Congress.

Brain disorders – neurological and mental alike – are widespread, highly disabling and often difficult to treat. Approximately 60% of the European population lives with a neurological condition and one in six citizens in Europe is affected by mental ill-health. These numbers are alarming without considering that they date back to before the COVID-19 pandemic, which we now know spurred higher rates of mental health conditions as well as COVID-triggered neurological complications, continuously on the rise in times of societal instability. These conditions represent a high individual, social and economic burden and contribute to the global disease burden and disability. At the end of 2023, the EU-funded Coordination & Support Action (CSA) BrainHealth launched, preparing for a European Partnership on Brain Health, planned for the European Commission’s 2nd Strategic Programme of Horizon Europe in 2025-2026. With the aim to further coordinate and structure the area of brain health research in Europe, the CSA BrainHealth is the result of a common vision and a goal to promote brain health regionally and globally, as well as promoting the brain health of citizens. This vision has been supported by the main players in the field for many years – JPND, NEURON, EBC and EBRAINS


Suzanne Dickson

Suzanne L. Dickson is Professor of Physiology/Neuroendocrinology at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden (2004-). She graduated first from the University of Edinburgh with a BSc (Honours) in Pharmacology (1993) and then from the University of Cambridge (UK) with a PhD in Neuroendocrinology (1993). Recently the University of Edinburgh appointed her Honorary Professor in Biomedical Sciences in acknowledgement of her work on the neuroendocrinology of appetite. Prior to her current appointment, she held a tenured position as Senior Lecturer in Physiology at the University of Cambridge, UK (1996-2004). Her current research focus is the role of the endocrine gut-brain axis in appetite control. This work builds upon almost 20 years research exploring the central actions of ghrelin and, before its discovery, growth hormone secretagogues (now known to be ghrelin mimetics). Her work was first to show that these ghrelin mimetics act in the brain, that they target an orexigenic system (the neuropeptide Y cells in the hypothalamus), that they are important for food intake and fat accumulation and, more recently, target brain reward pathways. Recent work includes the impact of gut hormones, especially ghrelin, on food choice, food reward, food motivation, food anticipation, habitual and impulsive behaviours as well as behaviours linked to mood. Suzanne has coordinated three successful European Union large integrated projects in the field of obesity, diabetes and appetite. Part of this work involved coordination of a consensus on “Food Addiction”. These projects involve wide international networks and collaborations that cross many scientific and geographical borders.


Kristien Aarts

Kristien has been part of the European Brain Council since 2019 where she currently leads the research team. In this strategic role, Kristien plays a pivotal role in ensuring that the organization’s work is grounded in scientific evidence, research, and innovation. Her responsibilities include monitoring research funding, project applications, overseeing EU-funded projects, and developing a rare brain disease ecosystem. She also manages the Brain Innovation Days program and is actively creating an evidence-based brain health toolbox for the team. Kristien has a PhD in Psychology from Ghent University (Belgium). With diverse experience at Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, the European Health Management Association and the University of Utrecht, Kristien brings expertise in brain research, neuropsychology, emotion, cognition, multisensory processing, mindfulness, clinical research management, and EU-project management.


Sabine Hölter-Koch

Sabine Hölter-Koch is a behavioural neuroscientist heading the Behavioural Unit at the German Mouse Clinic at Helmholtz Munich, Germany and lecturer at Technical University Munich. Her research focuses on the translational relevance of behavioural and brain phenotypes of genetic mouse models for neurodevelopmental, neurodegenerative and rare diseases. Her group has worked on phenotypes that are relevant across disorders, phenotype progression over the lifetime including influences of environmental factors, and on somatic comorbidities of brain disorders. She has contributed to several EU-funded projects since 2003 (EUMORPHIA, EUMODIC, INFRAFRONTIER2020, LDLensRad, CAQIII) and coordinated PREMOS, the cluster on Predictive Model Systems of the European Brain Research Area. Currently she serves as co-lead of the Behaviour & Sensory Workgroup of the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium (IMPC), as Science Communication Coordinator of COST Action CA20135 “Improving biomedical research by automated behaviour monitoring in the animal home-cage”, as member of the EBRAINS Science & Technology Committee, and member of the European Brain Council Animal Research Task Force. For ECNP she serves as Chair of the Preclinical Data Forum Network and member of the Workshop Committee 2023-2026.

Roger Adan

Roger Adan is Professor of Molecular Pharmacology at the University Medical Center Utrecht at the Utrecht University in the Netherlands. His research concerns unraveling the neural circuits that underlie behaviors relevant to psychiatry with a focus on eating disorders.

Martien Kas

Martien Kas is Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience at the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. The research of his group focuses on determinants of behavior, especially of behavioral strategies and of biological processes that are essential across species and that are affected in various neuropsychiatric disorders (e.g., social interaction and sensory information processing). By means of cross-species genetic analysis of neurobehavioral traits (of mice and men), they aim to identify genotype-phenotype relationships relevant to the development and treatment of autism spectrum disorders, Alzheimer’s Disease, eating disorders, and schizophrenia. These studies will lead to the understanding of conserved gene function in regulating essential behavioral strategies and will ultimately improve therapeutic and preventive strategies to contribute to healthy aging. In addition, he is Executive Committee Board member and President of the European College of NeuroPsychopharmacology (ECNP), Editorial board member of Mammalian Genome, and project coordinator of the PRISM1 and PRISM2 projects, two large EU Innovative Medicine Initiative (IMI) projects that aim to unpick the biological reasons underlying social dysfunction, which is a common early symptom of Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and Major Depressive Disorder.

Monica Di Luca

Monica DiLuca has been professor of Pharmacology at the University of Milano since 1999. She is at present the Director of Department of Excellence of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences of University of Milano. She is a member of the EMBO and has received major international distinctions and awards, including a Docteur Honoris Causa University of Bordeaux (2019) and a Laurea Honoris Causa Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Univ. of Mons (2017). Her primary research interest is related to synaptic plasticity both in physiological and pathological conditions, with the primary aim to apply her basic findings to the cure of neurodegenerative diseases as Alzheimer Disease. Her discoveries enriched our understanding of glutamatergic synapse in physiology and pathology, increasing our knowledge on plasticity and memory and leading to new tools for neuroprotection. A prominent trait of Monica DiLuca’s career is her deep and exigent involvement in sharing ideas over borders and establishing collaborative multi stakeholder networks merging scientists, clinicians and patients’ organizations. She has played a pivotal role in international organizations for neuroscience research in connection with societal challenges, including serving as President of Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and European Brain Council (EBC). She is currently the President of Italian Society for Neuroscience.

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