Count-down to the ECNP Congress
It is now four months ago that I wrote about our decision to go ahead with the 34th ECNP Congress in Lisbon, Portugal, on 2-5 October 2021, as a hybrid meeting. Now that we are half-way between then and the congress, I am happy to announce that we are moving ahead full speed with the hybrid congress.
Obviously, we have continued closely to monitor the situation and the prospects for a physical meeting in October. One key aspect that made us take this decision was the emerging evidence for the efficacy of the vaccines and the accelerating pace of the roll-out programmes. The vaccines have proven to be a major game-changer for our daily lives. As your read this message, about 50% of the adult population in EU have received at least one Covid-19 vaccination and it is expected that before October 70% of the adult population will have been vaccinated. I am certain that many of you will already now have noticed the freedom that follows a Covid-19 shot.
You can ask yourself the question: what will be the main story, once this pandemic is over? Will it be about how the world failed to contain the virus within Wuhan? Or about how successfully different countries’ governments handled the crisis? Will it be about the financial losses or the cost to human well-being? The ramifications of the crisis have touched so many parts of our lives and our politics. But what really will have put an end to the pandemic is the extraordinary collective effort of the international scientific community. Let’s hope that people – and politicians – do not forget that in the future when they assign research budgets, because as Mary Lasker, of the Lasker Award, once crisply noted: if you think science is expensive, try disease.
While the big Covid breakthroughs have come from our colleagues in infectious diseases, the pandemic has also presented multiple challenges for the brain sciences, with depression and anxiety, as well as sleeping, eating and substance-use disorders all spiking alarmingly. The mission of ECNP and the ECNP Congress is as urgent as ever.
So back to some encouraging numbers about the congress in October. The abstract deadline was on May 18, and we received a remarkable 1,122 scientific abstracts, around 70% of them from early career scientists – more than in either of the previous two ECNP Congresses. With 12 satellite symposia, we also have an outstanding industry offering, a reflection of the new activity in the field, as well a sign of how the field is returning to normal.
I hope to see you too in Lisbon!
Gitte Moos Knudsen