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Date and time: Monday, 29.06.2024, 11:30-12:30

Location: EAN TV

2024 is a pivotal year for brain health, research, and innovation, particularly at the policy level. 64 countries across the globe will exercise the right to vote across this year, EU Elections included. As we enter new governmental mandates across the continent, it is more important than ever to push the brain health agenda to the top of policy priority lists and reach the key decision makers to showcase just how important addressing and attending to the brain really is. 

Brain disorders – encompassing neurological diseases and disorders and mental illnesses – are widespread, disabling, and difficult to treat. In fact, it is estimated that up to three billion people worldwide live with a neurological condition and 970 million people around the world were living with a mental health disorder as of 2019. These conditions represent a high individual, social and economic burden and contribute immensely to the global burden of disease – in fact, as of 2024, neurological conditions alone are now the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. 

With this growing burden in mind, we need to not only find ways to address the ongoing issues but to work towards a society fully recognizing the potential of supporting citizens’ brain health. At its best, optimal brain health allows people to thrive: to live in health and in happiness, to power our labour markets and economies, and to build for future generations. Instead of divesting in a cost, policymakers and society at large should view the prioritization and support of brain health, research, and innovation as an investment into prevention, wellness, and optimization, creating a better future for every citizen. 

This session will bring together key voices from the brain community – clinicians, patients and political scientists – to discuss the work being done at the national and regional levels to advocate for brain health, exploring the challenges and sharing the achievements thus far.  


Frédéric Destrebecq

Astri Arnesen

Prof. Claudio Bassetti

Lecture Title: Establishing a National Brain Health Plan: Lessons Learned From Switzerland

Lecture Title: Patient-centred brain health strategies

Lecture Title: Establishing a National Brain Health Plan: Lessons Learned From Switzerland

Frédéric Destrebecq is the Executive Director of the European Brain Council since October 2014. In this capacity, he is responsible for providing strategic direction and leadership while managing the day to day operations of EBC and its ongoing relationships with its member associations and other stakeholders, as well as representing the organisation in various European and national forums.

Fred holds a Master Degree in Political Science and International Relations from the Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium). He also studied at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Paris) and University of Wales College (Cardiff), in the framework of the former EU Socrates exchange programme. Prior to EBC, Fred served the European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS) as Chief Executive Officer, and previously as Director for European Affairs.

Astri has been a patient representative and advocate since the mid-1980s. She served as President of the Norwegian Huntington Association from 2004-2014, joined the board of the European Huntington Association (EHA) in 2010, and was elected President in 2016. Currently, she works full time for EHA. Previously, she was head of a department providing expertise in special educational needs. Astri is a trained teacher in learning disabilities with additional degrees in developmental psychology, management, and innovative processes. She has a broad network within the HD community globally and is active in the rare disease field through Eurordis and the European Reference Networks (ERN), also serving on the steering committee for ePAGs (patient reps in ERNs).

Professor Claudio Bassetti has been full professor and chair of neurology at the University Hospital in Bern since 2012. He received his medical degree in Basel and trained in neurology in Bern and Lausanne. In 2000, he became professor and vice-chair of neurology in Zurich. In 2009 he founded the Neurocenter of Southern Switzerland. He completed his research fellowships in basic neurophysiology in Basel and sleep in Ann Arbor, Boston and Madison. His major scientific interests are the relationship between sleep and neurological disorders, narcolepsy, and the teaching of general neurology. He uses clinical and experimental approaches and has published more than 500 articles and eight books. Prof. Bassetti has previously served as president of the European Neurological Society, European Sleep Research Society and Swiss Neurological Society, and founded the Swiss Federation of Clinical Neurosocieties. He is an elected member of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences, which he served as board member for eight years. He has been president of the European Academy of Neurology since 2020 and was appointed Dean of the Medical Faculty in Bern that same year.

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