Plenary lectures

Continuing a successful formula from our congress in Amsterdam, we had again six plenary lectures as part of the scientific programme one of which was held by the 2016 ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award winner.

The role of stress and adverse life events in mood and anxiety disorders

Elisabeth Binder

ECNP in depth: interview
BinderElisabeth Binder has studied Medicine at the University of Vienna, Austria and Neuroscience at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, USA. Following a postdoctoral training at the Max-Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany, she returned to Emory University as an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Human Genetics. In 2007, she was appointed as research group leader at the Max-Planck Institute of Psychiatry within the Minerva Program of the Max-Planck Society.
Since August 2013, Elisabeth Binder is the director of the Department of Translational Research in Psychiatry at the Max-Planck Institute of Psychiatry. She also holds an appointment as an Associate Professor in the Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine. Her main research interests are the identification of molecular moderators of the response to environmental factors, with a focus on early trauma and gene x environment interactions. She studies how such factors influence trajectories to psychiatric disease or well-being to ultimately use this information for novel prevention and treatment strategies.  

New development in translational research in schizophrenia: towards therapy and prevention beyond dopamine antagonism

Kim Do
Following a career in basic research in chemistry, molecular biology and neurobiology (glutatmate and nitric oxide transmission, neuro-glial interaction) at the Brain Research Institute (Zurich University), Kim Do moved towards "bench to bed" research at the Center for Psychiatric Neuroscience (Department of Psychiatry, Lausanne University Hospital). She set up a translational research program aimed at a better understanding of the causes and mechanisms leading to schizophrenia phenotypes in order to develop markers for early diagnosis, new drug targets as well as preventive and therapeutic measures.
Building on an innovative hypothesis, she could demonstrate that oxidative stress/redox dysregulation induced, among others, by glutathione (GSH) deficit, may represent a "hub" on which both genetic and environmental risk factors converge during neurodevelopment, leading to the impairment of neural connectivity and synchronization, and to cognitive deficits as observed in patients. These mechanisms have been comprehensively documented in experimental models. Based on these relevant neurobiological data, a precursor of GSH, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), was administered to chronic patients. A double blind, placebo controlled addon clinical trial with NAC showed a net improvement in negative symptoms, in auditory evoked potentials (mismatch negativity), neural synchronization, and produced no side effects. These promising results led a new clinical trial with young patients during their first psychotic episode, paving the way for early intervention targeted at high-risk subjects.
In addition to her research activities, Kim Do serves as director of the Unit for Research in Schizophrenia and director of the Center for Psychiatric Neuroscience, where she also works on professional education and public outreach towards better care and cure of major psychiatric disorders.

Behaviour-determined signalling in brain circuits: understanding cognition and memory in health and disease

Arthur Konnerth
Professor Konnerth’s (b. 1953) research explores the basic processes underlying brain function. By means of electrophysiology, imaging and cell biological approaches in the intact brain in vivo, he focuses on synaptic interactions in neuronal circuits in order to achieve a better understanding of how the brain controls behaviour. A further goal is the elucidation of the neuronal defects associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Professor Konnerth studied medicine and obtained his MD degree in 1983 at LMU Munich and acquired his postdoctoral teaching qualification (habilitation) from TUM (1987). After completing postdoctoral research at universities in the USA and at MPI for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, he was a full professor and director of the Institute of Physiology at the University of Saarland and later held similar positions at TUM and LMU. Since 2005 he has held the Friedrich-Schiedel Professorship and been director of the Institute of Neuroscience at TUM. He is a member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Academia Europaea and Bavarian Academy of Sciences, has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the Medical University Timisoara/Ro and is a Carl-von-Linde Senior Fellow of TUM-IAS.  

Physical and emotional pain: is there a difference

Irene Tracey
United Kingdom
Professor Irene Tracey holds the Nuffield Chair of Anaesthetic Science and is Head of the Nuffield Division of Anaesthetics and is Associate Head of the Medical Sciences Division/School at the University of Oxford, England. Irene did her undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Oxford and held a postdoctoral position at Harvard Medical School. Over the past 16 years her multidisciplinary research team has contributed to a better understanding of pain perception, pain relief and nociceptive processing within the injured and non-injured human CNS using neuroimaging techniques. More recently, they have been investigating the neural bases of altered states of consciousness during anaesthesia. In 1998, Irene helped to co-found the now world-leading Oxford Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain (FMRIB) – the centre integrates research into key neurological and neuroscientific problems with cutting-edge developments in MR physics and data analysis ( The Centre has approximately 110 scientists and clinicians from a range of backgrounds and Irene was its Director from 2005 until 2015. She has been appointed the new Head of the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences – a 450 person strong department comprising the FMRIB Centre, Division of Neurology, Nuffield Division Anaesthetics, Nuffield Laboratory Opthalmology and the Division for Prevention of Stroke and Dementia. She will take up that post September 2016.
Irene has served and continues to serve on many national and international committees, including the International Association for the Study of Pain as an elected Councillor until 2014 (Chair of the Scientific Program Committee for the Milan 2012 biannual world congress), Deputy Chair of the MRC’s Neuroscience and Mental Health Board until 2014, the REF 2014 Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience panel until 2014, and is co-Chair of the Canadian CERC panel and a member of the Brain Prize selection committee. In 2008 she was awarded the triennial Patrick Wall Medal from the Royal College of Anaesthetists and in 2009 was made an FRCA for her contributions to the discipline.
In 2015 she was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. She is married to Professor Myles Allen, a climate physicist, and they have three irrepressible children: Colette (18), John (14) and Jim (9).
New developments in research into autism

Daniel Geschwind
Dr. Daniel Geschwind is the Gordon and Virginia MacDonald Distinguished Professor of neurology, psychiatry and human genetics at the UCLA School of Medicine. He is director of the Neurogenetics Program and the Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART) and co-director of the Center for Neurobehavioral Genetics in the Semel Institute at UCLA. His laboratory aims to develop a mechanistic understanding of neuropsychiatric diseases, namely autism and neurodegenerative diseases, and their relationship to the range of normal human higher cognitive function and behavior. The lab’s approach relies heavily on computational and bioinformatic methods in addition to wet laboratory experimentation. The ultimate goal is to use these integrative approaches to help develop effective therapeutics for neurologic and psychiatric disorders, focusing on autism and neurodegenerative disorders.            
Dr. Geschwind is also a strong advocate for data and biomaterial sharing, having provided scientific oversight for the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE). He has served on numerous scientific advisory boards, including the Faculty of 1000 Medicine, the Executive Committee of the American Neurological Association, the NIMH Advisory Council and the NIH Council of Councils. He has published over 300 papers and serves on the editorial boards of Biological Psychiatry, Cell, Current Opinion in Genetics & development, Human Molecular Genetics, Neurobiology of Disease, Neuron and Science. He received the Derek Denny-Brown Neurological Scholar Award from the American Neurological Association in 2004, the Scientific Service Award from Autism Speaks in 2007, the Ruane Prize for Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Research from the Brain and Behavior foundation in 2012, the Taking on Tomorrow Innovation Award (Research/Scientific Breakthrough in Autism) -Boston Children’s Hospital in 2013 and is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, USA.

ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award lecture

Rediscovering drug discovery in bipolar disorder

John Geddes
United Kingdom

GeddesProfessor Geddes is Head of the Department of Psychiatry at Oxford University, Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist at the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust where he provides clinical care for patients with mood disorders, specialising in bipolar disorder. He is also Director of RandD at the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust. Professor Geddes’ current research focuses the development and evaluation of treatments for people with bipolar and other mental disorders. He has established large cohorts of patients, developed new approaches to self management and monitoring, and conducted clinical trials as well as influential research syntheses. By involving patients in research, his team has been able to characterize the nature of mood disorder more accurately. His current research aims to use this knowledge to investigate the basic neurobiology and genetic mechanisms of the disorder. Professor Geddes is a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Honorary Fellow of the American College of Psychiatrists. Professor Geddes has authored or co-authored, more than 200 scientific articles and book chapters and 4 books.

John Geddes receives the 2016 ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award in recognition of his groundbreaking work on the psychopharmacology of bipolar disorder. The ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award is presented annually and recognises distinguished research in applied and translational neuroscience.