Brain Awareness Week is the global campaign to foster public enthusiasm and support for brain science. Every March, partners host imaginative activities in their communities that share the wonders of the brain and the impact brain science has on our everyday lives. In 2020, Brain Awareness Week will take place on March 16-22.
Annually, EBC partners with EDAB, FENS and others to organise at least one major Brain Awareness Week event in the European Parliament, highlighting the importance of brain research in Europe through various topics involving the brain. More details regarding the 2020 event will follow.
To learn more about previous BAW events, please see the following links:
The International Brain Research Organisation,IBRO, will hold its World Congress of Neuroscience on 21-25 September 2019 in Daegu, South Korea.
The IBRO World Congress has been held every four years since 1982. It is one of the most prestigious international meetings attended by over 3500 neuroscientists from around the world. It is a fascinating opportunity for participants to share the latest information and knowledge in the diverse areas of the brain research and neuroscience.
IBRO aims to promote neuroscience research and communication among researchers around the world. One of its foremost emphases is on supporting education of young investigators in developing countries.
For further information on the congress and how to register, please visit the official website: http://www.ibro2019.org/
Today marks the launch of the EBC-coordinated EBRA (European Brain Research Area) project’s Call for Clusters, aimed to promote co-operation and exchange between brain research projects and networks, and thus enable or enhance international collaboration and the emergence of development of clusters in all areas of brain research, in line with EBRA’s aim to foster new, and extend existing, transnational research cooperation of European countries, and to support coordination of research efforts.
A cluster is understood as an association of research projects that can be directed towards basic research, clinical research and/or methodological approaches under a common topic, and disease and/or thematic area.
Visit the EBRA website’s Call for Clusters page now for further details (including application process and deadlines) and to reach the application form and portal:
The EBRA project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 825348. The information provided on this website reflects only the author’s view and that the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
The next European elections take place on 23-26 May 2019, when 350 million EU citizens will again have their chance to elect the 751 members of the European Parliament (EP).
In light of these elections, EBC has joined many like-minded organizations in producing its own Election Manifesto, a call and reminder to MEPs, old and new, for an improved quality of life for Europeans living with brain conditions.
What many may not realize is that 179 million Europeans live with brain conditions and that these brain conditions put a heavy strain on citizens and healthcare systems across the European Union.
1 November 2018 marked the launch of the European Brain Council (EBC)-coordinated EU project TheEuropean Brain Research Area (EBRA). EBRA was designed to respond to the Horizon 2020 call, SC1-HCO-10-2018, entitled “Coordinating European brain research and developing global initiatives”, which called for the reduction of fragmentation and duplication of research efforts, fostering synergies through enhanced coordination of brain research efforts at EU and at global level, improved access to and optimising the use of research infrastructures and data sources by the neuroscience research communities, thus ensuring better exploitation of the large investments made in brain research, achieving critical mass and economies of scale by initiating and fostering new global research initiatives, as well a enabling and accelerating the translation of breakthroughs in brain research into relevant clinical applications.
The European Brain Research Area project — EBRA — was created as a catalysing platform for brain research stakeholders (researchers, clinicians, patients, governments, funders and public institutions) to streamline and better co-ordinate brain research across Europe while fostering global initiatives.
The highly diversified nature of European public research, defined as an area of “shared” policy responsibility between individual countries and the Commission, represents a considerable obstacle in the European Research Area, particularly acute in the field of brain research, where the complexity of brain imposes a joint and coordinated research effort to advance our understanding of brain and its disorders.
The EU and its Member States have made considerable investments in brain research leading, to a significant increase of initiatives in this area, particularly under Horizon 2020 and many large research initiatives. Although these initiatives have generated considerable amounts of knowledge and innovative approaches, the complexity of the challenge requires more coordinated efforts to avoid fragmentation, identify gaps and highlight priorities, thus fostering translation into new health interventions.
Over the next three years, the EBRA Consortium will work to foster alignment and better co-ordination of research strategies across European and global brain initiatives; facilitate the emergence of research projects in specific areas in active clusters, and provide them with support for effective collaboration, including enabling sharing of data and access to research infrastructures; and increase the visibility of the brain research portfolio as a whole and promote the uptake of EBRA results to key stakeholders.
Last Monday and Tuesday, 23-24 April 2018, EBC held the two-day event “Brain Research in Europe: Shaping FP9 and Delivering Innovation to the Benefit of Patients” at the University Foundation in Brussels. The event was organised in three different sessions: “FP9 and Missions”, “The Value of Innovation” and “European Brain Research: Shifting Gears and Going Global”. The full programme booklet can be found here, and below is a recap of the two fruitful days.
The event aimed to bring together leading healthcare stakeholders and policymakers to address key questions in the domain of research, such as how the upcoming 9th Framework Programme can accelerate brain research across Europe, what measures can be taken in order to stimulate the development of new central nervous system drugs for treating brain disorders, and what can be done to address the concerns of patients.
FP9 & Missions
In view of the upcoming FP9 proposal, a wide range of independent experts provided recommendations on mission oriented research and how to gain the most out of EU-funded innovation programmes. Recommendations to double the budget of the next Framework Programme have resounded across institutions: The “Lab – Fab – App” report, written under the leadership of Pascal Lamy, the European Parliament, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Commissioner for Budget Günther Oettinger. Additionally, Prof. Mariana Mazzucato provided guidance on how research and innovation can address global challenges in the recently released report “Mission-Oriented Research & Innovation in the European Union”. In light of these recommendations, the session “Missions and FP9” aims to facilitate dialogue amongst experts on the mission oriented approach of the European Commission and how the next Framework Programme can boost therapeutic innovation.
Keynote speaker Prof. Andrea Renda kicked-off the first session, giving an insightful presentation on Mission-Oriented Research and Innovation Policy in the EU. He explored EU research as it stands now, and where it could be winning and/or losing. Furthermore, he shared all the different programmes available and supportive of the brain, and called for continued collaboration.
EBC President Prof. Monica Di Luca called for the Brain to be recognised as a Mission, launching the EBC Brain Mission, which calls to ‘understand, fix and enhance’, referring to understanding the brain as the space race of the 21st century. The full Mission can be read HERE.
Newly appointed Director-General of the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, European Commission, Jean-Eric Paquet, addressed the audience, giving insight into what’s ahead as the work to shape the next Framework Programme begins, speculating on how a mission-oriented approach could pan out.
The Value of Innovation
Developing effective treatments to improve the lives of those affected by brain disorders is extremely challenging. Despite decades of publicly and privately funded brain research, there is currently no treatment available to cure a wide range of mental and neurological conditions. What is more, research efforts do not always translate into tangible results for patients. In view of this, and in the light of the high burden that brain disorders impose on European society, the session on “The Value of Innovation” aimed to empower healthcare experts and stakeholders to present their views on issues that hinder therapeutic innovation and discuss potential solutions.
The session was introduced by EBC Treasurer Joke Jaarsma, and the morning began separated into the perspective of various stakeholders: patients, research, regulators and industry. These perspectives were shared by Hilkka Kärkkäinen (President, GAMIAN-Europe), Jacobo Santamarta Barral (Young Person’s Network at the European Multiple Sclerosis Platform), Prof. Sebastian Brandner (UCL Institute of Neurology), Dr. Marisa Papaluca (Senior Scientific Advisor, European Medicines Agency) and Dr. Christoph von der Goltz (Lundbeck).
A panel session followed, bringing in further stakeholder perspectives, with a discussion from payers, industry, researchers and policymakers. The panel was made up of Menno Aarnout (Executive Director, Association Internationale de la Mutualité), Matthias Wismar (Senior Health Policy Analyst, European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies), Nathalie Moll (Director-General, EFPIA), Prof. Colm O’Morain (Past President, Alliance for Biomedical Research in Europe) and Jaroslaw Waligora (Policy Officer, Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety, European Commission). The panel discussion was moderated by Dr Alexander Schubert (Executive Director, ECNP) and Margaret Walker (Executive Director, EUFAMI).
European Brain Research: Shifting Gears and Going Global
The third session drew focus to global initiatives and the potentials to increase collaboration at the international level, and aimed to provide an overview of the current global brain research initiatives and to allow experts to present their perspectives on how to further enhance cooperation at global level.
Many initiatives aimed at supporting brain research and improving the allocation of research funds were launched at global level in recent years. These efforts have the potential to significantly strengthen collaboration across disciplines and can therefore make a lasting difference for patients and scientists.
The session began with a welcome from Prof. Patrice Boyer, EBC Vice-President, and went on to an introduction on the global initiatives launched with the support of the European Commission by Dr Karim Berkouk, Acting Head of Unit, Non-communicable diseases and the challenge of healthy ageing, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, European Commission.
This continued to examples of existing and potential collaboration, bringing together Dr. Ari Ercole representing the International Initiative for Traumatic Brain Injury Research (InTBIR) – concrete example of existing international collaboration and the work being done at the global level;Prof. Philippe Ryvlin, Co-Chair, Joint Task Force for Epilepsy Advocacy Europe, International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) – exploring why epilepsy should be the next global initiative and the value of international collaboration and expanding to a more global level; and Dr. Helena Ledmyr, Head of Development & Communications, International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility (INCF)– introducing INCF as an organization and platform for neuroinformatics and the value of international cooperation.
Heads of global networks then gave insight into the scope and function of their organizations and how they are collaborating and cooperating both across Europe and worldwide. This included Prof. Philippe Amouyel, Chair, EU Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND), Chris Ebell, Executive Director, Human Brain Project and Dr. Hella Lichtenberg, Senior Scientific Officer, ERA-NET Neuron.
The session was summed up and concluded by Prof. Wolfgang Oertel, EBC Vice-President, highlighting the vital need for collaboration on the brain.
We would like to thank everyone that was in attendance of the two-day event and for helping provide fruitful discussion.
Addressing the major burden on those living with brain conditions and the costs for European society requires an intensified research effort and the creation of novel solutions. The target of our proposed Brain Mission will be to decrease this enormous burden through better understanding of the physiology of the brain and disease states, relevant prevention strategies, as well as more generally, an increased awareness of the brain and its diseases.
Continued commitment to basic neuroscience research has advanced our understanding of the nervous system, with Europe successfully leading this effort designed to increase our understanding of the brain, as well as the practical and clinical application of this knowledge.
Engagement of the scientific and clinical community at all levels is required in order for the European population to benefit from discoveries and for advances in basic neuroscience to be translated into new diagnostic tools and treatments for brain disorders.
It is imperative now for the brain community to step up and call for the continued recognition of the brain and for the recognition of its importance in the upcoming Framework Programme (FP9). Help spread the Brain Mission far and wide and let’s continue to commit ourselves to advocating for the brain and for the 179 million people across Europe living with brain disorders.
Brain Awareness Week is the global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research organised
by the Dana Foundation. Every March, partner organizations worldwide work together to celebrate the brain for people of all ages. Past activities have included open days at neuroscience labs, exhibitions about the brain, lectures on brain-related topics, social media campaigns, displays at libraries and community centers, and classroom workshops – to name a few.
The well-attended and fruitful event was held under the title “The Value of Early Intervention in Brain, Mind and Pain Conditions”, and included two panel discussions:
The first panel addressed the conclusions and recommendations of EBC’s Value of Treatment research project and White Paper, and explored the value of early intervention, using the case-studies of four disorders – presented from various stakeholder perspectives –and how the EU can support the solutions identified. The panel, led by Paul Arteel (GAMIAN-Europe), included presentations from the Stroke (An epidemiologist and neurologist’s perspective – Dr. Alistair Webb, UK), Multiple Sclerosis (A public health and policy’s perspective – Ms. Vinciane Quoidbach, Belgium), RLS (A patient’s perspective – Ms. Joke Jaarsma, Netherlands) and Schizophrenia (Families’ perspectives – Ms. Aagje Ieven, EUFAMI, Belgium) working groups.
The second panel, chaired by Ann Little, President of the European Federation of Neurological Associations (EFNA), focused on the possible next steps in the Value of Treatment project – exploring the application of the developed methodology to other disease areas e.g. rare diseases or chronic pain, as well as a future focus on interventions such as rehabilitation.
MEP Michał Boni began the discussion by discussing a move and need towards Integrated Care, and Ms Vinciane Quoidbach, Public Health Policy, Research Project Manager Value of Treatment Research Project at EBC presented the Value Proposition of a second VoT project.
The panel then continued into a discussion on potential case studies, addressing unmet needs, with presentations on rare diseases (such as Ataxia): A neurologist’s perspective – Prof. Paola Giunti, UK, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis: A patient perspective – Nancy van Hoylandt, Belgium and Chronic Pain: A researcher’s perspective – Dr. Nick Guldemond, University of Rotterdam.
Before the panels concluded with a Q&A from the audience, Guest speaker Stephane Hogan, Head of Neuroscience, DG Research & Innovation gave his report on the work of the Commission and the continued support and dedication to brain research.
EBC has just released another video on its YouTube channel, a highlights video of the EBC outreach event held on 16th March 2017 at The European Parliament in Strasbourg. The outreach event was titled: “Expanding Brain Research in Europe: A Societal Need?” and was held in the framework of Brain Awareness Week 2017, a global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research. Every March, BAW unites the efforts of partner organizations worldwide in a celebration of the brain for people of all ages.
Key speakers gave presentations on the topic of brain research from their individual standpoints. The speakers included: Monica Di Luca (Vice President of EBC, and President of FENS), Marion LeBoyer (Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Paris) and Ann Little (President of The European Federation of Neurological Associations, EFNA, deputising for Joke Jaarsma. MEPs Ann Sander and Momchil Nekov hosted the event.
The event was highly successful, with a good showing of MEPs, policymakers, researchers and the general public who openly interacted with each other and the speakers during the hour of open discussion following the presentations.
The full presentations from each speaker will be available to watch soon.
* For more information about the Value of Treatment (VoT) for Brain Disorders research project, click here: http://bit.ly/2qhvsv4
Congratulations to Monica Di Luca, Vice President of the European Brain Council and Past President of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies. On 31st March 2017, Prof Di Luca received from the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy at the University of Mons, in Belgium, the degree “Docteur Honoris Causa” for her research on the brain’s ability to modulate its synaptic activity in the context of diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Honoris Causa is an honorary title awarded by UMons to a personality who has made a significant contribution to his or her field of expertise or to a particular institution.
Also awarded the degree honoris causa alongside Prof Di Luca were the Dutch architect Francine Houben , and her compatriot Bert Meijer, a supramolecular chemical expert, as well as the French translator Jean-François Menard, the British economist Robert Skidelsky and the French sociologist Vincent De Gaulejac.