Recap: The ERA-Net NEURON at FENS 9th to 13th of July, 2022

The ERA-Net NEURON was strongly involved at the largest neuroscience conference in Europe, the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) Forum with several program contributions. Over 7500 international neuroscientist attended Europe’s premier neuroscience event in Paris, on July 13, 2022, placing it the best attended FENS Forum ever. Two of the in total 22 plenary and special lectures were organized by the ERA-Net NEURON, and one networking event.

Get-together at FENS Forum 2022 © ERA-NET NEURON

Networking event

On Sunday, July 10th, 2022 the networking event was organized by the ERA-Net NEURON, the FENS Committee for Higher Education and Training (CHET), the Cajal Training Programme, and the IBRO PanEurope Regional Committee (PERC). Set in a relaxed and cosy environment, this networking event offered a unique opportunity to ask questions to representatives from FENS, IBRO-PERC, the Cajal Training Programme and ERA-NET NEURONeuron on future funding and training activities. Early Career Researchers (ECRs) connected with their peers and participants who attended past training courses and events to best understand how to boost careers to the next level. Funding and training opportunities of ERA-Net NEURON were explained to the graduate students and postdocs over beer, wine and fingerfood by Erkki Raulo (ERA-Net NEURON Early Career Researcher coordinator) from the Academy of Finland and Marlies Dorlöchter (ERA-Net NEURON coordinator).

Panel discussion on research policy

On Monday, July 11th, 2022 research policy views on the future development of brain research were exchanged in a panel discussion. The Special Event was organized and moderated by the European Brain Council (EBC) as part of the European Brain Research Area (EBRA) project. Members of the EBRA consortium explained their visions on brain research. Marlies Dorlöchter, the NEURON coordinator, reminded that the brain is an organ of highest complexity. It is therefore of utmost importance to work across disciplines and join forces in order to fill all the gaps in our knowledge that still exist despite enormous progress of the past years. The lack of understanding the normal functioning of the brain is a hurdle to dealing with its diseased stages. A holistic approach to address mental disorders and neurological diseases and find effective cures is highly needed. With economic, environmental, and political challenges increasingly affecting mental health, brain research will gain societal and political importance. This opinion was shared by the other panel members, Philippe Amouyel (JPND), Pawel Swieboda (EBRAINS), and Juan Lerma (EBC), who added new aspects to the discussion. It will be essential to more strongly involve patients and the public in research activities, to meet their demands and strengthen translational aspects of brain research. With the growing demand on collaboration, the importance of generating, storing and sharing high quality research data becomes more and more obvious. All this will be only possible with the help of high-level funding policies – national and European – for brain research as a research area of immense relevance.

three person at a discussion panel (Philippe Amouyel, JPND, Marlies Dorlöchter, ERA-Net NEURON, and Pawel Swieboda, HBP)
Philippe Amouyel, JPND, Marlies Dorlöchter, ERA-Net NEURON, and Pawel Swieboda, HBP at the FENS Forum 2022 in Paris. © EBRA

ERA-Net NEURON Plenary Lecture held by Damien Fair

The Wednesday, July 13th, 2022 started with the ERA-Net NEURON Plenary Lecture held by Damien Fair, a behavioral neuroscientist, professor at the University of Minnesota, and director of the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain from Minneapolis, USA. He presented brilliant data on ‘Developmental cognitive neuroscience in the era of big data’, and the role of functional imaging in studying brain networks. Marlies Dorlöchter (ERA-Net NEURON coordinator) chaired the session and pointed out that neurodevelopment is for the ERA-Net NEURON one of its focus areas and that technical advances led to excellent progress in the field and a much better understanding of the processes in the young brain.

Damien Fair
Damien Fair, professor at the University of Minnesota © CC BY 3.0
from left to right: Erkki Raulo, Steffen Tiedt, Marlies Dorlöchter © Bartosch Salmanski

Lecture of the ERA-Net NEURON Excellent Paper in Neuroscience Award (EPNA)

Also on Wednesday, July 13th, 2022 the special lecture of the ERA-Net NEURON Excellent Paper in Neuroscience Award (EPNA) was presented by Steffen Tiedt from Munich (Germany). Steffen Tiedt received the award for his work published in 2021 on molecular biomarkers for stroke and their crucial role for early diagnosis and therapy of this life threatening disease in the clinical practice. Erkki Raulo (ERA-Net NEURON Early Career Researcher coordinator) chaired the session and proudly presented the award.