Tag Archives: Outreach

BAW 2018 Event Report: “Expanding Brain Research in Europe: Education, Behaviour and Brain Development”

On 15 March 2018, EBC held its annual Brain Awareness Week event at the European Parliament (in Strasbourg, France) in partnership with FENS, EDAB, BBC, University of Strasbourg-Neuropole and the Bureau Grand Est. The event is designed for outreach to the general public and policymakers, to give an insight into the world of neuroscience and communicate just how important the work of neuroscientists is for society. This year’s event was co-hosted by MEPs Anne Sander (France, EPP), Daciana Sârbu (Romania, S&D), and Lieve Wierinck (Belgium, ALDE), who all gave powerful talks about the need for continued support of neuroscience and research, as well as the need for scientists to be empowered to communicate their work to the general public and how their research has an impact on lives. The event was officially opened by co-moderators EBC President Prof. Monica Di Luca and EBC Treasurer Ms Joke Jaarsma.

The first speaker was Prof. Albert Gjedde of the University of Copenhagen. His talk covered “The predictive brain and the future: to boldly go where no one has gone before” which explored how the most fundamental questions about the brain still remain unanswered despite the great advances in neuroscience over the recent years. More than ever before, neuroscientists must engage in efforts to test and apply this novel insight into the key functions of the human brain, as part of neuroscience’s continuing mission to explore the challenges that humans face when their brains age.

The second speaker was Prof. Steven Laureys, Director of the Coma Science Group at the GIGA Research and Neurology Department of the University and University Hospital of Liège, Belgium. He spoke freely to the room on his work in consciousness and coma science, and how understanding consciousness remains one of the greatest mysteries for science to solve. He also made the case for continued but starker support from the EU institutions for science and research, asking for continuity in funding and the work being done- breaking free from project-based restraints, allowing for consistency and longer-term research.

The final speaker was Prof. Gaia Novarino, neuroscientist who investigates the genetic and molecular basis of neurodevelopmental disorders at IST Austria, and spoke on how scientists work to find treatments for pediatric neurological disorders. Neurodevelopmental disorders affect millions of individuals from very young ages, and are often refractory to treatments, and despite decades of intensive research disorders such as autism and epilepsy remain poorly treatable. However, in the last years, researchers have found that autism spectrum disorders, epilepsy and mental retardation are often caused by tiny mistakes in the patient’s DNA; genetic information, therefore, may retain the key to reveal potential
treatment options.

A discussion with the audience follow the speakers, and was a great display of interest and curiosity from the full room. Attending neuroscientists and MEPs alike posed questions to our three speakers, the panel and discussants Prof. Roland Pochet and EBC Vice-President Prof. Patrice Boyer.

EBC would like to thank all its partners and collaborators for making this Brain Awareness Week 2018 outreach event an excellent success, as well as all the attendees who took the time out of their day to travel to the Parliament to make the event. We also extend a special thank you to all MEPs that attended the event and took part in the lively discussion.

The full programme with speakers biographies and abstracts can be found here
The event was livestreamed here

Brain Awareness Week: Outreach Event, Strasbourg (16.03.17)

What is Brain Awareness Week?

The global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research

Brain Awareness Week unites the efforts of partner organizations from around the world in a week-long celebration of the brain every March. 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.

Brain Awareness Week was founded in 1996 by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives. EBC partner, The Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) joined the celebrations in 2006, administering the grants that the Dana Foundation reserves for participating European organisations.

“Now in its 22nd year, Brain Awareness Week continues to flourish because of participation of partners from around the globe, like FENS, and their commitment to educating the public about the importance of brain research and its critical role in helping people lead healthier, more productive lives.” – Edward Rover, Chairman, The Dana Foundation & The European Dana Alliance.

Find out about Brain Awareness Week in France here.

As part of Brain Awareness Week, EBC, in collaboration with The Dana Foundation, The Belgian Brain Council, The European Psychiatric Association (EPA) and The Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS), organized an outreach event at the European Parliament, Strasbourg on 16 March 2017. The title of the event “Expanding Brain Research in Europe:  A societal Need?” was in parallel to the Lunch debate organized in Brussels on 14 March 2017. The goal of the event was to target MEPs and other decision makers interested in the fields of health, research and innovation. The event was hosted by MEP Anne Sander and MEP Momchil Nekov


The event at Strasbourg consisted of three presentations given by guest speakers: Monica DiLuca, Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Milano and Vice President of EBC,  Marion Leboyer, M.D., Ph.D. is currently Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Paris Est (UPEC) in France and Anne Little,  President of The European Federation of Neurological Associations (EFNA) and Executive Director of The International Bureau for Epilepsy.

The event was highly successful, with a good showing of 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 abstracts of each presentation are below:

Monica DiLucaBrain Research in Europe: Our Challenge for the Future

Brain diseases represent a considerable social and economic burden in Europe. With yearly costs of about 800 billion euros and an estimated 179 million people afflicted in 2010, brain diseases are an unquestionable emergency and a grand challenge for neuroscientists. Considering the costs of brain diseases for the European society, and considering that these costs will increase considerably in the coming years due to the ageing European population, one way of curbing this increase and possibly decreasing the costs is via intensified research. Thus, strong basic research in neuroscience and the development of a strong European platform for neuroscience is needed to face brain diseases, which nowadays represent a societal emergency in European countries.


Ann Little— Putting neurology patients at the heart of research

Patients should be involved in helping to shape priorities for research that is ultimately carried out for their benefit. A growing body of evidence suggests that involving patients in research improves the relevance, quality and speed of that research. Furthermore, including patients as top level priorities in order to close the gap between what researchers want to research and what patients want researching is likely to be beneficial for all research.

The Value of Treatment project initiated by the European Brain Council is one excellent example of patient participation in research. The project addresses the burden of disease and the issues in the current healthcare system, and proposes evidence-based and cost-effective solutions to achieve high value for patients. By describing (“mapping”) the patient journey in full detail (by both patients and health care professionals), treatment gaps have been identified which will be addressed in the policy recommendations resulting from this project.

Marion Leboyer— Supporting research in psychiatry in Europe: A major societal issue

Mental disorders represent the single greatest economic and social burden on European society. The cost of mental disorders (excluding dementia and other organic brain disorders) in 2010 was estimated at €461 billion. This is the lowest current estimate for this figure, as it does not take into account the large additional costs associated with having co-occurring mental and physical disorders.

With sufficient investment, mental health research could address the burdens in Europe, especially through research on prevention of mental disorders in young or at-risk populations, on improvement of understanding of causes, on developing new tools for diagnosis and innovative therapeutic strategies, thus promoting positive mental health in the general population. Such approaches have been advocated by the European Parliament and the European Commission, and Prof. Leboyer will outline the most pressing mental health research that takes advantage of Europe’s infrastructure and research strengths, including the EU ROAMER project.

On the evening before the outreach event, 15 March, a networking cocktail reception was also held by EBC member, The European Psychiatric Association (EPA) at their Strasbourg Headquarters.



A video containing the highlights of the event can be found on the EBC Youtube channel, and shared below: