At the General Assembly of ECNP Members in Vienna the new ECNP Executive Committee was installed, and it is an honour for me to be the new ECNP President for the coming three years. I would like to thank our previous President, Gitte Knudsen, and the entire Executive Committee for their hard work and dedication over the past three years, which were made especially challenging by the global pandemic.
The 35th ECNP Congress in Vienna was a great success from a scientific, educational, professional and social perspective. With nearly 5,700 participants from over 94 countries, and nearly 90 sessions and 1,000 posters, it showed the remarkable breadth and vitality of the ECNP community, with clinicians, neuroscientists, neurologists and psychologists from academia, industry, and regulatory agencies all contributing. I hereby thank the speakers and session chairs for providing the innovative science and educational content to our meeting. A special thanks goes to John Cryan the chair of the Scientific Programme Committee (SPC) and all the members of the SPC for selecting the excellent sessions and speakers from the large pool of submitted proposals. Also, thank you to the ECNP Office for all the work they put into the congress from an organisational perspective, and, of course, all attendees for making this a wonderful and inspiring meeting.
Considering that this is my first message as the new ECNP President, I feel that a short introduction is in order. My name is Martien Kas and I am professor of behavioural sciences at the Groningen Institute of Evolutionary Life Sciences at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Being trained as a biologist, I did my PhD research at Stanford University (USA) on sleep and circadian rhythms under the supervision of Dale Edgar and Serge Daan. I went on to a postdoc position at the University Medical Centre in Utrecht on the molecular genetic mechanisms underlying eating behaviour, under the supervision of Roger Adan. This is also where I started as an independent principal investigator studying the neurobiology of translational phenotypes relevant to psychiatry. In 2016 I was invited to become the chair of the Behavioural Neuroscience programme in Groningen. Here I also started as the project co-ordinator of the EU-funded IMI PRISM and PRISM2 projects that aim to develop a quantitative, transdiagnostic neurobiological approach to the understanding of neuropsychiatric disorders in order to accelerate the discovery and development of better treatments for patients with those disorders.
As the incoming president I had the wonderful opportunity to chair the ECNP Innovation Task Force in the past year and to start thinking ahead about how to further enhance our activities and strengthen our community. The task force formulated its ambition as fostering European research alliances and providing a platform to educate, inspire, guide and disseminate applied neuroscience research, in order to develop and implement novel treatments for brain disorders and to promote brain health. We have also identified various areas where we could further enhance the ECNP community and broaden our educational activities. For example, we would like to start incorporating a professional career development trajectory (from Early Career Scientist to Fellow Member), start organising Early Career Scientist interest groups and activities, further facilitate public-private partnerships as a starting point for collaborative research projects, and expand the online ECNP-owned platform for fostering interactions between our ECNP community members. Furthermore, we would like to establish a strategy for our training programmes for a broader outreach on science-based medicine innovations. Our more than 20 Networks and Thematic Working Groups provide an excellent basis for enhancing the impact and visibility of these activities.
With such an ambitious agenda, it is a great pleasure to welcome the new Executive Committee members, who have already expressed great enthusiasm for these ideas during our first Executive Committee meeting in Vienna. I am very much looking forward to starting to build the future of applied neuroscience research together with you, and hope to meet you in person during one of our upcoming events.
Finally, the profound impact of climate change on mental health, especially for vulnerable patient populations, makes it imperative that ECNP responds to this challenge. Accordingly, we have assessed our climate impact in all our operations, from our internal processes and meetings to our external initiatives and investments, and have committed ourselves to make the activities of the College carbon neutral by 2030. For this, the steps towards energy perseveration and sustainability that you have seen at the ECNP Congress will be intensified and complemented by changes in the way we work and the activities we support.