November 2019

ECNP e-news
Message from the President
Tuesday 19 November 2019

gitte-knudsen

With the 32nd ECNP Congress in Copenhagen being well over, it is my pleasure to send this first message as the incoming president of ECNP.

Our congress continues to develop positively, with a still increasing number of attendees. We believe that this – at a time where many scientific societies are facing a decrease in numbers of delegates – is because of both the excellence of the scientific programme and the new and refreshing features that make our congress not only a place to meet, learn and exchange new ideas, but also an eventful one, with softer values: the run with the president, yoga, campfire sessions, healthy food, just to mention a few. If we as brain scientists and strong believers in the importance of maintaining the brain’s health do not take this seriously, who will then?

It was a particular pleasure for me to take over the ECNP presidency in my own home town, Copenhagen. Although purely coincidental, it felt reassuring to speak to the ECNP General Assembly here and to explain my vision for the College’s future. For those of you who did not attend the General Assembly, I think it is appropriate to reiterate here.

Since I will serve as the ECNP president for the next three years, it is a good occasion to introduce myself to you now. I earned my medical degree from the University of Copenhagen and did my training in neurology at various hospitals in the Copenhagen area. My DMSc degree was obtained on the basis of work that served to establish novel methods for measuring blood-brain barrier permeability in the human brain, also including studies of amino acid transport in patients with phenylketonuria and hepatic encephalopathy. I also did preclinical studies in Germany and collaborated with modelling scientists at NIH and later Stony Brook in the US. During my training in neurology and afterwards, I worked with patients with stroke, dementia, and epilepsy. I also became the mother of three children who are now grown-ups.

Later, I moved on to work with positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance (MR) neuroimaging and in 2006, I was fortunate to receive a large grant from a private foundation, the Lundbeck Foundation (not to be confused with the H. Lundbeck company) to study how the serotonergic neurotransmitter system shapes interindividual differences in personality and behaviour. This naturally led further on to the question of what predisposes people to mental disorders and how this is reflected in the brain serotonergic receptors and transporter.

I usually present myself as a clinical neurologist and neurobiologist with a particular interest in method developments that I subsequently apply to pertinent questions within brain disorders, and with a focus on neuropharmacological interventions. I find myself well placed in ECNP, because the College is composed of psychiatrists, neuroscientists, neurologists, psychologists and other professionals, from across the world, who are keen on discussing the latest developments in the science and treatment of brain disorders.

I am completely aware that I am taking over a College that in many respects is a well-oiled machine with a wealth of activities around the year. For that I am grateful, but it doesn’t mean that there isn’t more to achieve!

I am particularly keen on supporting our early career scientists. Only by recruiting and supporting the best young people within our field can we ensure continued development and progress in the prevention of, diagnosis, and treatment of brain disorders. It is particularly a pleasure to watch the buzzing energy and activity at the poster sessions at the annual ECNP Workshop in Nice, and I am hoping that we can transfer some of that energy to the congress poster sessions as well.

Transparency is becoming increasingly important and that also applies for our College. Some of you may have noticed that ECNP now has opened our committees to self-nominations, including the executive committee. We believe the College needs people from different backgrounds, gender, age, nationalities, and scientific interest, and we welcome all neuroscientists and clinicians within our field to self-nominate for the different ECNP organs.

This fall I had the chance to visit the ECNP office in Utrecht and to spend the day with the staff members. Although I was familiar with the office and its members it was, nevertheless, amazing to see the dedication and passion with which the staff works for ECNP. We are all very lucky to have such a dedicated office! 

Knudsen_signature

Gitte Moos Knudsen
ECNP President

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