The Institute of Neurosciences (IN) is a centre belonging to the University of Alicante, and one of the twenty Spanish centres which has won the Severo Ochoa award of Quality. Its Director, Juan Lerma, will deliver one of the lectures to the “100Xciencia” Forum, in which he will give an account of the present and future challenges it faces. In his capacity as a researcher, he says that “Understanding the brain is one of the main challenges of modern science”. This is our own challenge for the present and the future. Of course, the short term objectives are centred on understanding specific mechanisms of brain development, of neuronal communication, of the plasticity of the synapses and the circuits which work as they do, and that when there is a general maladjustment they generate what we know as diseases of the brain, whether they be degenerative, mental, neuroinflamatory, or of another type.”
As for the future of research at the Institute of Neurosciences he explains that “we need to understand which parts of the brain, or which relations between them, break down in order to try to find solutions to the main diseases such as Alzheimer and other dementias, of autism, schizophrenia, depression, and so on. We know well”, he adds “that this is urgent, because diseases of the brain cost more to society than cardiovascular and heart diseases together”. To highlight this he reminds us that “every seven seconds a dementia is developed somewhere in the world”.
As for the specific research in the Institute of Neurosciences Lerma reminds us that the IN makes an intensive effort to communicate the results and discoveries they make on behalf of society. “We do this” he explains “via the offices of communication of the CSIC, and of the Universidad Miguel Hernandez (UMH). We also arrange one visit per month from a school, and the IN has open days which coincide with the World Brain Week, and organizes events in Alicante to celebrate this. Our members lose no opportunity to argue in favour of science in the different forums at which they represent the Institute, and often give outreach talks to a variety of audiences such as science fairs, colleges, cultural association etc.”.