ECNP e-news
Message from the President
Friday 17 January 2014

Guy Goodwin

The New Year is a traditional time for reflection and positive resolutions, made in hope (not invariably in expectation). So, I propose a little (more) navel gazing around our acronym ECNP. Having elected to keep it as it is, why are we a college and not a something else? The Roman word collegium described a club or society, or even a group of persons living together, under a common set of rules (con = 'together' + leg = 'law' or lego = 'I choose'). We are probably close enough to this understanding. We do not have to reflect the narrower use of the term in the Anglophone countries where rather specific educational purpose is usually implied (together with the common residence) and often the desire to be exclusive in various ways.

The founding objective of the ECNP is to stimulate high-quality experimental and clinical research in neuropsychopharmacology, so we are not just a professional organisation but aspire to be elite. But do we best achieve that by being restrictive in who can be a member? We all want to be treated by elite doctors and flown by elite air crew but at least in my own curiously (and now inversely) class-conscious society, we are not sure we want to cultivate elitist institutions. So does ECNP want to be a non-elite institution that promotes the work of elite scientists and clinicians? I suspect it does but it is not an issue we have ever really resolved.

Membership is currently encouraged from ‘all persons involved in or interested in the scientific study of neuropsychopharmacology’ (ECNP statutes), which is by no means restrictive.

Accordingly, membership of ECNP is individual and anybody may apply although membership still has to be approved by the Executive Committee. Membership carries an annual charge and gives access to the ECNP journal and other resources plus decision-making powers via the annual General Assembly. Fellow Membership gives additional responsibility and recognises elite achievement. Honorary, Associate and Corresponding Membership cover a variety of special cases. Associate membership is an inexpensive entry point for young people. Alternatively membership may not be that important at all – maybe participation is what matters in a virtual structure like ours?

I think we are on track to be a less elitist organisation, with relatively low barriers to membership. We actually need to plot this course very consciously and address the true need for membership barriers because it will play out in a newly specific legal setting where we have to demonstrate public benefit as a justification for our tax arrangements. For that reason alone, the activities of ECNP must be open to as broad a constituency of interested parties which will increasingly include patient groups.

So, less elitist, a strong open membership, a mandate to create elite activities largely for the public good? Does that further define ECNP’s identity? Express your opinion and help us collectively to achieve one resolution this year.

My best wishes for health and happiness in 2014.


Best regards,

Guy Goodwin, ECNP President

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