Message of the President
Taking applied neuroscience forward

Before moving to exciting developments within ECNP, I would like to point out two recent initiatives at the European level that are close to our hearts.

First, I would like to welcome the recent European Commission’s communication on ‘a comprehensive approach to mental health’, which was launched earlier this month. It puts forward the European Commission’s new strategic, cross-sectoral and life-span approach to mental health and its three guiding principles, namely prevention, access to healthcare and treatment, and reintegration into society after recovery. While it is very important to recognise and prioritise the high medical unmet need for mental health at the EU level, the urgent need for biological, mechanistic research into fundamental disease mechanisms and treatment remains under-represented and missing in the overall strategy.

Second, I also take this opportunity to alert the ECNP community to a recent hearing in the European Parliament of a European Citizen’s Initiative that includes the banning of all animal research in the EU by 2030. Should this come to pass, the impact not only on European research but at a global level would be immense. Progress towards new treatments for diseases of the brain, both mental and neurological, require animal research. We need to understand the mechanisms underpinning brain diseases and their treatments, and – in the case of neuropsychopharmacology – obtain information about drug toxicity, dosage and side effects. We greatly support the initiative of the European Brain Council in the “Pledge for Science” and encourage our community to sign this pledge (which currently has over 3,500 signatories) and disseminate it to those who have a voice – politicians, industry partners, clinical and basic research institutions and patient organisations.

And now to ECNP. In our strategic meeting in December last year, the Executive Committee decided to broaden our educational offering both in reach and scope. As a result, two pilot educational courses were launched, one on Anxiety Disorders and another on ADHD. The courses provide a blended curriculum of live e-learnings, meetings at the ECNP Congress, and assignments, all provided by world-leading experts from the ECNP Networks and in close collaboration with our Educational Committee.

The interest in these courses has been overwhelming: in the two weeks of the application submission window 260 people applied for the 100 places. As we have opened the live e-learnings for a larger audience, we were very pleased to see over 1,000 registrations for the first two live virtual seminars – a great success. Congratulations to the organisers of the courses and the ECNP Office for their efficient implementation. Clearly, there is a large educational need in these areas, and we are very much looking forward to the rest of the courses.

Another highlight is the level of registration for the upcoming 36th ECNP Congress in Barcelona. We received 1,700 abstracts (500 more than in last year) and have, at this stage, already close to 3,000 registrations (both online and onsite). These numbers are far ahead of our registrations in previous years and promise an exciting congress with a fantastic programme in October. Of course, registration is still possible and we hope to see you all in Barcelona.

In the meantime, the New Frontiers Meeting Committee is preparing for the 2024 ECNP New Frontiers Meeting, which will be addressing a roadmap for a new diagnostic framework for mental disorders. A broad committee including international representatives from academia, industry, and the regulatory agencies has been discussing this topic in two meetings, and a preliminary programme outline is shaping up.

Altogether, I believe that the ECNP community is truly enhancing the field, and it is wonderful to see that we are expanding to include a larger group of people that care about applied neuroscience research and want to enhance the possibilities of treating patients with brain disorders and to improve brain health. Progress relies on further increasing our knowledge of fundamental biological processes and their application to humans in ever-changing environments.

At the turn of the season, I wish you and your family an enjoyable summer, and a peaceful outlook for those of you in need!

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