Message of the President
Inspiring times

Last month was a wonderful experience, as we enjoyed excellent meetings as part of ECNP’s current educational and scientific programme, but also started to prepare for our future educational ambitions. During our yearly gathering in Nice, a variety of the ECNP meetings were held and the Executive Committee discussed our forward-looking plans to further our educational programme in view of scope and reach.

In the great ambience of the city of Nice, a hundred talented Early Career Scientists were invited to join the annual ECNP Workshop. Following selection based on their abstract submission prior to the meeting, the Early Career Scientists were engaged in a two-and-a-half-day programme with outstanding scientific plenary lectures, opportunities to present work either by poster and/or lecture, and career development discussions, all in an atmosphere perfectly designed to further enhance the community. Many thanks to the Workshop Committee chaired by Suzanne Dickson for organising such a wonderful programme, to all of the speakers for their excellent presentations, and to the Early Career Scientists for their contributions and fruitful discussions.

Directly following the Workshop, the ECNP New Frontiers Meeting started. The topic this year was classical psychedelics, i.e., 5-HT2A receptor agonists. This class of compounds has over the last decade attracted quite some interest not only for the treatment of major depressive disorder and anxiety, but also for a range of other disorders such as OCD, substance abuse, and cluster headache. The meeting consisted of talks from some of the most prominent scientists in the field. Former president of ECNP, David Nutt, set the scene and got us all on the same page, followed by experts within the molecular, cellular, preclinical and clinical domains. The latter covered not only pharmacokinetic/-dynamic effects but also trial outcomes and the interesting aspects of set and setting. A session was also devoted for patient testimonials, from both the positive and negative sides. The meeting is deliberately confined to about 100 participants, who were invited based on their application. But as a new feature, we also had more than 200 online participants. Many thanks to the organising committee led by Gitte Moos Knudsen for putting together such an excellent programme with state-of-the-art science and stimulating discussions. We will be working with a newly established committee on next year’s meeting, which will address the high level of phenotypic and biological heterogeneity and overlap within and across psychiatric conditions, focusing on the rationale, outlook and consequences of a new diagnostic framework for mental disorders.

In between events, the Executive Committee had its spring meeting, during which it fine-tuned the outline of the upcoming annual congress in Barcelona. The programme looks fabulous! We hope that you will be submitting your abstracts (the submission deadline is 15 May) and registering to attend, either in person or online, and experience Europe’s biggest meeting in translational neuroscience. The congress will also provide a great opportunity to meet with your current or potential future collaborators.

In addition, we finalised the preparations for the launch of ECNP’s new educational programme that will be spearheaded by two of our Networks. By means of a blended learning format with a combination of e-live learnings, in-person colloquia, and targeted assignments the Anxiety Disorder and ADHD Networks have put together exciting new courses to broaden the scope and reach of our educational activities and provide participants with the latest in treatment science from the field’s leading clinicians. In April, registration for these courses will be launched. Finally, to further enhance our ECNP career trajectory, preparations are underway to start the ECNP Young Academy and the launch of this initiative is expected at the upcoming congress in Barcelona. Stay tuned!

We also have exciting news to share about our new fully open access college-owned journal, Neuroscience Applied. Over 15 of our Networks are preparing special sections for the journal providing up-to-date insights into the causes and treatments of brain disorders. We are well on track for submitting the journal for listing services this year, which means that all papers can then be found on PubM Central and Clarivate, and expect to have our first impact factor about a year later. For a limited time, we are able to offer free submission to the journal to all ECNP members: until the end of 2023, all publications in Neuroscience Applied will be free of charge for the authors.

Furthermore, ECNP and Cohen Veterans Bioscience (CVB) are pleased to announce the opening of submissions for the 2023 Best Negative Data Prize in Clinical Neuroscience. The prize recognises the researcher or research group whose publication in clinical neuroscience best exemplifies clinical data where the results do not confirm the expected outcomes or original hypotheses or results that challenge a long-standing clinical precedent. Submissions are highly welcomed until 21 May 2023.

It is with great pleasure that have I participated in these ECNP events. Being inspired by the excellent science presented at the meetings and by ideas and views from people at the various stages of their careers, I am now realising more than ever the large variety of disciplines that ECNP’s mission is covering. As an example, Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg provided an excellent lecture during the Workshop on urbanicity and mental health, in which he highlighted the high rates of psychiatric morbidity in cities, and how exposure to green space can compensate for reduced neural regulatory capacity*. Interestingly, meeting Mark Millan, one of our previous Workshop Committee chairs, boosted that thought again when he pointed me to his recent blog on the influence of green spaces on mental well-being. Indeed, as he pointed out, ‘we are inherently a part of – and dependent upon – a range of planetary ecosystems, which we need to better protect for our mutual benefit’. This is a further reminder of the relevance of bringing closer together the fields of biology and medicine to broaden our understanding of disease expression in an evolutionary and environmental context.

*See ‘Neural correlates of individual differences in affective benefit of real-life urban green space exposure’, Nat Neurosci 22, 1389-1393 (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41593-019-0451-y

Feel free to contact me by reply e-mail.
Martien Kas
ECNP President
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