Connecting European Neuroscience

Fall 2012 Issue

Message from the FENS President 

Marian Joëls
Marian Joëls
See you in Prague? 

Whether there will ever be a true United States of Europe is a question that can only be answered in years to come, but for the moment Europe is what it is: a large collection of nations, each with its own history, tradition, culture and often its own language; a charming group of nations that has every intention to act in unison but is learning as it matures in the context of a union.

FENS very much fits in this tradition: we are truly a Federation of European Neuroscience Societies, acting on behalf of our 32 national and 9 monodisciplinary member societies. When FENS was founded, it was decided to give room to both the federal and national character by organising a FENS Forum meeting in the even years and having the member societies organise their own meetings in the odd years. And this has worked remarkably well. The FENS Forum has known a steady growth, from some 4000 participants at the first meeting in Berlin in 1998 to close to 7000 participants during the recent Forum in Barcelona. Likewise, most national societies have flourished and new societies have been founded in countries where neuroscience was not organised at a national level. 

With a growing FENS Forum meeting - and may it continue to do so - it is evident that only a few countries can host such a large meeting. That would inadvertently give the impression that European Neuroscience is limited to those countries and this of course is not the case. Therefore, the Governing Council of FENS decided in 2007 to ‘feature’ one of the regional meetings taking place in the odd years. In practice, a few national societies in close proximity often join up to increase the critical mass and collectively boost neuroscience in the region. Featuring in this case means that FENS supports the societies to compose an attractive scientific programme in every possible way, including financially. FENS also provides 50 stipends of €500 each for foreign students who wish to attend the FENS Featured Regional Meeting and this is complemented by many stipends from the various individual FENS member societies. The featured meeting is also the occasion to present the winner of the FENS-EJN Best Publication Award. Finally, FENS chips in to make the social program attractive and to reach out to local policy makers, to underline the importance of good neuroscience research and, of course, local funding thereof. 

FENS Featured Regional Meetings have already taken place in Warsaw, Poland in 2009 and in Ljubljana (on behalf of the Slovenian and Croatian Societies, with colleagues from Trieste, Italy) in 2011. Both were a huge success, with wonderful scientific exchange in a stimulating surrounding. The next Featured Meeting will take place in Prague, between September 11 and 14, 2013. For this occasion, the Czech and Slovak Neuroscience Societies in association with the Austrian Alzheimer Society have joined forces. The Call for abstracts is expected to open in December 2012. Check out their website: 
Come and enjoy state-of-the-art neuroscience in the enthralling atmosphere of the city of Prague. Hope to see you there!

Marian JoëlsFENS President top

Dispatch from the past president 

Sten Grillner
Sten Grillner

Looking back I was pleased in general with the steps forward taken by FENS during 2010-2012. An important item was trying to inspire the national societies to promote knowledge of and fascination with our fabulous brains for the lay public in addition to funding agencies and politicians.

The many interesting and important aspects of brain function and the detrimental effects of brain diseases (both psychiatry and neurology) for individuals as well as society need to be acknowledged in society (costs one third of the total health care expenditure). Most research support comes at the national level. The support of the European Commission has also increased significantly over the last few years. The need for funding has become even more important now as the economic crisis in many European countries has resulted in large cuts in support of science, particularly in the southern parts of Europe.

The European Brain Council (EBC) has played a prominent role. EBC is a collaborative effort between FENS, representing mostly experimental neuroscience, European associations for neurology and psychiatry together with patient organisations and representatives from the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. EBC is involved in advocacy at primarily the European level. FENS is also interacting with the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) to promote advocacy, which has been a major effort of SfN for a long period. SfN has expanded rapidly, not only the size of the SfN meetings, but also in building up a large and very competent staff (nearly 80), which supports the development of neuroscience. On a much smaller scale FENS is now trying to do its utmost to support European neuroscience and has since 2011 its own office in Brussels, at the Club Universitaire. In this building a number of smaller scientific organisations and the like have their offices. In addition, there are large and small meeting rooms. This is also a place for the FENS member societies to meet and interact in different ways. The secretariat is now led by Lars Kristiansen, the Executive Director. He was recruited from the European Science Foundation with a background as a neuroscientist trained in the US and Denmark.

I am leaving the most important item to the end: the FORUM in Barcelona – the largest FORUM so far with 6,992 participants – only narrowly missing 7,000. We had very good feedback on the scientific programme and the general setting. The contribution of the Spanish society, in particular the chair of the local organising committee, Maria del Mar Dierssen Sotos, was crucial. She made a phenomenal contribution – even performing in her additional role as an established rock star at ‘Jump the FENS’. FENS had decided against printing the large programmes to save resources (tons of paper) and money and instead rely on a brief Programme at a Glance (plenaries, symposia and poster sessions), and otherwise the web. Overall this worked well, but there are some lessons to be learned to develop the software further, which had not yet reached in all aspects the same level as SfN. Perhaps the Programme at a Glance should be expanded to include some more details and be perhaps twice the length!

During this period we have had fruitful interaction in a collaborative spirit with SfN in particular, but also with IBRO, with the schools and global advocacy committee and with the Japanese, Chinese and Australian neuroscience societies. I am now following with great interest the ambitious new initiatives taken by Marian Joëls and her team!!

Sten GrillnerFENS President 2010-2012

Editorial from the Communication Committee: Building Bridges 

Kiki Thermos
Kiki Thermos

The mission of FENS, as stated in its strategic plan, is to facilitate scientific interaction between its member societies and individual neuroscientists, and to promote education and training in neuroscience across Europe.

In the same framework, its mission is also to promote understanding and involvement in neuroscience among the general public, and to advise decision-makers on the results and the implications of neuroscience research. FENS’ actions such as the FENS FORUM, the FENS Featured Regional Meeting, the Dynamic Brain Conference series, NENS, the Schools (in collaboration with IBRO) have enhanced the mobility of neuroscientists within the European family. These actions have created great opportunities, especially for the younger scientists, pertaining to their neuroscience education and training, and in the creation of substantial collaborations amongst scientists all over Europe. This without a doubt will raise the research potential, lead to professional development and important job opportunities in the future. In collaboration with EDAB, FENS has been promoting public awareness of brain research with great success. More recently, in collaboration with SfN, it promotes advocacy for neuroscience research. FENS has built bridges with these partners, as well as with the Asian-Pacific Neuroscience Societies, that are on sound ground. This was evident in the meetings held with all partners in New Orleans at the recent SfN meeting.

A major issue that was discussed in New Orleans was advocacy for brain research. FENS, along with other partners, agrees on the importance and need of global advocacy and thus supported the creation of the IBRO Global Advocacy Committee. One important action for the promotion of global advocacy that was agreed upon is the necessity of an advocacy toolkit, comprised of basic facts on the prevalence and burden of brain diseases, to be used to inform policy makers on the importance of brain research in each country. The SfN/FENS joint venture to organise a workshop on advocacy, in Brussels June 16-17 2011, was praised and a proposal was voiced that a joint effort of FENS/IBRO/EDAB/SFN be made to organise a similar function during the FENS Forum in 2014. The SfN/FENS workshop led to the launching of a FENS-SfN Advocacy grant program in Europe. Ten European National Societies were funded after this call in 2012 and funding was approved for seven more Societies in 2013. This program helped to enhance the efforts of FENS National Societies to organise events for the promotion of advocacy for neuroscience research in their countries. A presentation of the results of these efforts is planned for the near future. Good Practice Advocacy examples are greatly needed to educate members of National Societies to work efficiently in promoting advocacy.

Another important issue that FENS discusses with its partners is animal legislation. The sharing of experiences and legislation issues will benefit the neuroscience community globally. FENS (CARE) interacts strongly with SfN (CAR) and the Japanese Neuroscience Society to coordinate actions for the responsible use of animals in neuroscience research. Finally, FENS has embraced the idea of becoming a partner of SfN in supplying material for

FENS is strongly increasing its visibility within Europe with its meetings, schools and public outreach but it also moves forward using the bridges it has created. The outcome of its collaborations will certainly promote neuroscience in Europe and globally.

Kiki ThermosChair, Communication Committee

Open your mind!
European Month of the Brain – May 2013

Philippe Cupers
Philippe Cupers

To understand how the brain works is one of the greatest challenges in science. It is also particularly important considering that brain diseases constitute a major burden to our society, with at least one third of European citizens estimated to experience one or more brain related disorders and with a cost of €796 billion Brain research is a highly multidisciplinary research characterized by an unequalled level of complexity. In the last few years, several pharmaceutical companies reduced or closed their neurosciences research and development facilities because the discovery of appropriate compounds is too expensive, with a high risk of failure and therefore offers lower prospects of a return on investment. Understanding how the brain works is therefore good for our health, our society and our industrial competitiveness. It has an important role to play for the achievement of the Europe 2020 strategy and of the Innovation Union.

The European Commission has responded to this challenge by providing a comprehensive support for brain research in the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7) and by dedicating financial resources unmatched by any previous research framework programme, with more than €1.7 billion allocated to brain-related research since 2007. This effort will be further consolidated towards the end of the FP7, where the subject of brain research is proposed as a priority in the Health Work Programme 2013, with a proposed budget of €126 million.

To cap these efforts, the European Commission is organising in May 2013 a European Month of the Brain. It will be an awareness and communication event aimed at encouraging policy makers to better coordinate and optimise resources allocated to brain research, showcasing EU-supported achievements in the area of brain research and healthcare, lifting taboos, associated with mental health issues, and providing insights into brain research and healthcare challenges. The European Month of the Brain will be a one-off event and will address the whole spectrum of brain-related diseases, research and healthcare.

This Month of the Brain initiative of the Directorate for Research and Innovation will be centred around two main conferences. The first, planned in Brussels, will showcase the added value of EU-supported actions and outline future scientific challenges in the area of brain research and healthcare. A second conference, organised with the Irish EU Presidency in Dublin will focus on foresight policy in the field of brain research and healthcare. The main target audience will be policy-makers.

In addition to these two main events, we encourage stakeholders, and national and regional authorities, to complement the European Month of the Brain with other events, such as workshops, exhibitions, 'brain days', specific school-targeted activities, institute open days and lab visits, and specific awareness campaigns.

Write to to let us know your questions and plans.

Nour-Dine Amlaiky, Philippe Cupers, Maria-José Vidal-Ragout & Ruxandra Draghia-AkliEuropean Commission,
Directorate General for Research and Innovation,
Directorate Health,
1049 Brussels, Belgium

Medical University of Vienna 

Jürgen Sandkühler
Jürgen Sandkühler

The Center for Brain Research (CBR) of the Medical University of Vienna, Austria, was founded in 1999. It is based in a historical building in the centre of Vienna.

The CBR is devoted to state-of-the-art translational research and teaching neurosciences.
and memory, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, neuromyelitis optica, neurodegeneration, neuropathy, opioid-withdrawal syndrome, inflammatory and neuropathic pain, Parkinson’s disease, Rasmussen’s encephalitis, sleep disturbances, X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy, and Zellweger syndrome. Virtually all major technologies of modern neurosciences are currently employed at the Center covering aspects from the molecular- and cellular- all the way up to the systemic level. An increasing number of collaborations with clinical partners substantiate the relevance of our research for the patients’ needs.

Signal processing in the central nervous system (CNS) is characterized by electrical nerve activity, chemical messengers and by a highly complex neuronal network. Consequently our research projects deal with the electrophysiological properties and functions of single nerve cells; the chemical information transfer at specialized contacts between nerve cells, i.e. the synapses; and with the roles of individual neurons and complex networks for behaviour.

The brain consists of about 100 billion neurons and 1 quadrillion synapses. Each neuron may receive up to ten thousand synaptic contacts from other neurons. Synaptic transmission involves the release of neurotransmitters and binding to receptor molecules. Several research projects deal with the structure, the pharmacology or the trafficking of important receptor molecules for γ-aminobuturic acid (GABA), acetylcholine or glutamate. GABA is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the CNS. The properties and functions of GABAergic neurons are studied in various contexts including cognitive functions and pain.

The properties and functions of the electrical and chemical signalling machineries in the CNS are continuously modified, e.g. by experience, but also by age or disease. This is called “neuronal plasticity”. Ongoing research at the Center relates to activity-dependent forms of synaptic plasticity such as synaptic long-term potentiation (LTP), which may, for example, underlie learning and memory formation. Our researchers use the neuromuscular junction as a model synapse to study the formation, maturation and maintenance of synapses. Translational control at synapses involves dendritic mRNA transport and subsequent activity-dependent local protein synthesis at the synapse that is studied in several other research projects at the Center.

Center for Brain Research, Vienna
Center for Brain Research, Vienna

All cells, including neurons, need to metabolise lipids. Specialized cell organelles, the peroxisomes, fulfil this role and their dysfunction in neurons almost always leads to severe neurological abnormalities. Impaired cell metabolism and the production of reactive oxygen or nitrogen species may trigger nerve cell malfunction and degeneration. In Parkinson’s disease, for example, degeneration leads to a progressive loss of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in the basal ganglia. All these topics are addressed in various research projects at our Center.

The CNS is viewed as an immune privileged site, since the blood brain barrier restricts the entry of immune cells and immunological mediators. The access of immune competent cells to the CNS is relevant under pathological conditions such as multiple sclerosis and neuromyelitis optica. Nerve cells are far outnumbered by non-neuronal glial cells in the CNS. They play important roles in health and disease. The mutual interactions of neurons and non-neuronal, immune competent cells are studied by different groups in the Center, e.g. in the context of multiple sclerosis or pain.

Visualization is a prerequisite for many scientific questions in life sciences. The complex three dimensional neuronal networks are rather inaccessible for visualization. This problem is now tackled down to the level of dendritic spines by a guest group at the Center for Brain Research. With the help of computational models and mathematical algorithms some of the present and former researchers at the Center are exploring the complexity of neurotransmitter receptors, individual neurons, neuronal networks and living organisms. Modelling and data analysis deal with receptor-binding pockets; spatio-temporal pattern recognition in neuronal networks; natural language processing and acquisition; EEG and related signals; and decision making.

Members of our Center are involved in a number of teaching activities covering the broad spectrum of neurosciences, medical education and state-of-the-art technologies in imaging, cellular and molecular biology, neuroimmunology and neurophysiology. We offer classes for students from our Medical University and from universities around the world. Our practical courses, lectures and seminars span basic neurosciences for the beginner and highly specialized topics for the advanced researcher.

Jürgen Sandkühler, M.D., Ph.D. Director
Center for Brain Research

Neuroscience Center of the University of Helsinki 

The Neuroscience Center (NC) is an independent research and teaching institute in the University of Helsinki that was founded ten years ago. NC uses modern cellular and molecular approaches to understand the biological basis of nervous system development and functions. The research and teaching areas of the NC are: molecular and cellular neuroscience, developmental neuroscience, cognitive and systems neuroscience, and basic research of nervous system diseases. The focus areas are transgenic technologies in mice and zebrafish, electrophysiology and behavioural analysis, as well as imaging technologies and computational methods for image data analysis. Since the beginning, the NC has emphasized the need to develop research infrastructures that combine transgenic technologies in model organisms to behavioural phenotyping, imaging and electrophysiological analysis (see

In 2012, the NC has 16 research groups with complementary expertise that allow multidisciplinary research of development/plasticity of the nervous system and basic research of disease mechanisms in the nervous system. The research groups of the NC are selected for 5-year periods based on evaluation of the international scientific advisory board (SAB) of the NC. The positions are renewable based on the SAB evaluation. The NC research has identified novel molecules regulating brain development and plasticity, and produced original insights into molecular mechanisms of degenerative and behavioural disorders (for recent results and ongoing activities, see

All research groups of the NC participate and teach in the international Master's Degree Programme in Neuroscience (MNEURO) that has been organised in collaboration with the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences. MNEURO is a two-year research-based teaching programme corresponding to 120 ECTS credits. Group leaders of the NC are also closely connected to local and national graduate schools funded by the Ministry of Education and the Academy of Finland. The graduate school Brain and Mind provides four-year positions and training for doctoral students in different fields of neuroscience. Both MNEURO and the graduate school Brain and Mind are active in European networks of neuroscience education.

One of the aims of NC is translation of academic research results into clinically or commercially applicable practices or products, and several molecular pathways are currently studied as new targets of drug development. During the last 10 years, NC group leaders have founded three start-up companies that are based on the academic research of the NC. Hermo Pharma Ltd focuses on neurodegenerative diseases and on therapies based on modulation of neuronal plasticity. Neurotar Ltd is a contract research organisation producing imaging services. Neuroware Ltd develops neuroinformatics tools required in academic and industrial research.

Heikki Rauvala Heikki Rauvala
Professor, Director
Eero Castrén Eero Castrén
Professor, Director
(from 2013)

News from EJN: 
Experimental design of preclinical experiments: A call to arms to investigators, reviewers, and journals

The design of useful clinical studies requires adherence to strict standards, including randomized assignment of subjects to conditions, blinding of experimenters, assuring adequate statistical power and employing appropriate statistical analyses, the definition – pre hoc - of major measures and end points, and explicit rules for handling outliers and missing data. There is little if any dispute that results from studies violating these standards carry little weight and in fact plenty of evidence to suggest that results from such studies are difficult to reproduce.

In contrast, preclinical experiments less consistently adopted such stringent standards. This may explain why many preclinical fields of research have experienced enormous challenges in predicting the clinical significance of their findings, and some fields look at decades of nearly complete failure to confirm preclinical predictions in clinical studies.

The US Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) convened an effort to analyze the causes for poor predictive validity of preclinical research and to propose measures designed to improve the design of preclinical experiments to a level more comparable with the standards of clinical research. We believe that the results from this effort, published recently by Landis et al. (2012), represent a major step forward and perhaps even a turning point for preclinical research. Landis et al. describe the main findings from analyses of experimental design practices in preclinical research, and they do not make for a pretty picture. From underpowered experiments to retrospective end-point selection, these shortcomings not only lead to poor predictive validity but they may also be unethical, specifically in light of the use of animals in inconclusively designed studies.

Improving the design of experiments and changing data handling practices will require “all of the above”, including better education of students and investigators in experimental design standards and statistical analyses, the more routine bringing-on-board of biostatisticians, and more thorough reviewing by funding agencies and journals. Implementing sound experimental designs and data handling procedures entail demanding steps and may often increase the costs at the level of individual research groups. In the long run, however, considering the costs of failed clinical trials, these measures have the potential to increase the overall efficacy of research.

EJN puts a premium on thorough and fair reviewing, and we have long emphasized the importance of detailed and informative reporting of statistical methods and results (Sarter & Fritschy, 2008). We, as well as our Associate Editors, are all practising scientists who therefore “feel the pain” of adopting ever more complex and demanding research standards. EJN will continue to change alongside, with editors and reviewers increasingly paying attention to the quality of the experimental design, data handling procedures and the statistical analyses described in our submissions. It is in part for these reasons that EJN does not impose word limits on methods and result sections, and why we discourage “dumping” of important descriptions of procedures and results into supplemental sections.

Jean-Marc Fritschy Martin SarterCo-editors in chief, EJN
Jean-Marc Fritschy & Martin Sarter
Sophie  GavariniManaging Editor, EJN
Sophie Gavarini


Landis, S.C., Amara, S.G., Asadullah, K., Austin, C.P., Blumenstein, R., Bradley, E.W., Crystal, R.G., Darnell, R.B., Ferrante, R.J., Fillit, H., Finkelstein, R., Fisher, M., Gendelman, H.E., Golub, R.M., Goudreau, J.L., Gross, R.A., Gubitz, A.K., Hesterlee, S.E., Howells, D.W., Huguenard, J., Kelner, K., Koroshetz, W., Krainc, D., Lazic, S.E., Levine, M.S., Macleod, M.R., McCall, J.M., Moxley, R.T., 3rd, Narasimhan, K., Noble, L.J., Perrin, S., Porter, J.D., Steward, O., Unger, E., Utz, U. & Silberberg, S.D. (2012). A call for transparent reporting to optimize the predictive value of preclinical research. Nature, 490, 187-191. 

Sarter, M. & Fritschy, J.M. (2008). Reporting statistical methods and statistical results in EJN. Eur J Neurosci, 28, 2363-2364.


A big thanks to the neuroscience community for participating in our survey!

We wish to thank all of you for participating in the online survey that FENS sent out in October. We received over 3000 responses! The survey was conducted to further enhance the quality of our services to the neuroscience community. All answers were analyzed and we are extremely glad to report very positive feedback about our journal EJN.

Responses to the questions as well as separate comments overall indicated satisfaction with the expertise of EJN’s editorial board, the scope of the journal, its reputation and the quality and fairness of reviews. Despite this positive perception of EJN and its considerable readership, this level of popularity is not reflected in the impact factor of EJN according to survey participants. Respondents indicated they would like to see this metric as well as the general visibility of EJN to increase. Naturally, the visibility and impact of your FENS journal eventually rests on the frequency with which EJN publications are referenced in scientific publications.

To do our part, and in order to further increase the visibility of EJN, we have developed some new online services (such as the EJN Blog and the EJN App). Your feedback and suggestions concerning our electronic services are important. Many participants of the survey requested to make the EJN App compatible for Android phones. We listened and are delighted to announce that this feature should be ready in 2013!

The survey data also indicated little awareness as to the role of EJN in supporting the European neuroscience community (see graph). Indeed the proceeds that FENS receives from EJN are reinvested in FENS to support the federations’ activities, including scientific meetings, the job market, as well as the European neuroscience schools programme and NENS scholarships.

We will thus focus next on increasing awareness on the role of EJN for you, for the students and the neuroscience community in general.

Did you know that EJN profits fund FENS activities

The following three lucky survey participants have been selected by a random draw as winners of an iPad:

  • Panagiotis Giannopoulos, Oxford, UK
  • Ago Rinken, Tartu, Estonia
  • Fabiana da Silva Alves Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Congratulations to the winners and thank you all again for showing your support to FENS and EJN!
Sophie Gavarini Sophie Gavarini
Managing Editor, EJN
Lars Kristiansen Lars Kristiansen
Executive Director, FENS

Nominate now for the 2014 FENS EJN-Award!

The FENS-EJN Award, which is the flagship award of FENS, is complemented by a personal award of £10.000. It is given in recognition of outstanding scientific work in neuroscience and has in previous years been awarded to prominent researchers such as Barry Everitt (2012), Wolfram Schultz (2010), John O’Keefe (2008), John Garthwaite (2006) and Richard Morris (2004). 

Nominations for candidates can be submitted until December 31st 2012. For more information, please see


NENS Committee 

Ferdinando Rossi
Ferdinando Rossi

The NENS committee was partially renovated during the FENS Forum in Barcelona with the election of three new members: Fernando De Castro Soubriet (Spain), Anne King (UK), and Heiko Luhmann (Germany). Tomi Taira (Finland) and Ferdinando Rossi (Italy) have been confirmed for the second mandate.

This committee, which will operate for the next two years, up to the FENS Forum of 2014, will be engaged in a series of important tasks, including both the continuation and improvement of NENS activities and coordination of its activities with the FENS-IBRO European Schools Programme.

Among ongoing NENS-sponsored activities, the committee will work on the structure of the School Directory and Database and on its link with the FENS Job Market. The idea is to provide schools and students with efficient instruments for advertising, recruitment and mobility. Efforts will be also made to implement NENS Stipends for Training Stays and attract more applications (also following the recent increase in the maximum amount granted to €2000). Moreover, NENS will continue the collaboration with EDAB activities to communicate neuroscience to the public, such as the Brain Team and the Brain Awareness Week.

In addition to these activities, the committee will be involved in a number of novel initiatives. The Young Research Exchange Program (YREP), stemming from several bilateral agreements with extra-European neuroscience societies, will cover travel costs for job interviews for postdoc positions in the partner countries. The program will start at the end of this year with agreements with Japan Neuroscience Society and the Chinese Neuroscience Society (for updated information, please contact The Online Training Website is a new initiative of the Society for Neuroscience that will be launched in early 2013. The website will contain materials on training and career development in neuroscience that will be made available to everyone free of charge. FENS is willing to participate in the initiative by helping to produce part of this material (e.g. video-lectures, webinars, etc.). Discussions with the Society for Neuroscience (SfN)are currently ongoing.

The most challenging task for the committee will be the merger of NENS with the FENS Schools Committee to create the Committee for Higher Education and Training (CHET) in 2014. Although the process will take two years to be completed, some relevant decisions must be taken in a rather short time. The ultimate goal would be to create a new operational structure capable of integrating the entire network of FENS-sponsored training activities, including Master and PhD programs that are part of NENS, a system of high-level theoretical/practical Schools on crucial topics, and the job placement tool to facilitate training and career development of young students in neuroscience. During these years the two committees will work together to coordinate their ongoing activities and to create new common initiatives.

Ferdinando RossiChair, NENS Committee


In the last Call of the NENS stipends in 2012 three applications were evaluated and one was awarded: 
- Valentina Mosienko from the Helmholtz International Research School Molecular Neurobiology, Germany, for a training stay in the School of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Bristol.

First Call for NENS Travel Stipends in 2013

is now opened; the closing date for applications is 15th February 2013. For further information and application details, please visit:

YREP Stipends for job interviews

are available; stipends cover the travel costs up to a maximum of €1500 to and from Europe to Japan and China for postdoctoral and Ph.D. student positions.

Application deadline: 15th February 2013

Detailed information are available at:


CARE - Committee on Animals in Research 

Roberto Caminiti
Roberto Caminiti

The Committee on Animals in Research (CARE) was created early in 2010 and started its activity at the FENS Forum in Amsterdam, in July 2010. The main goal was and remains to advise FENS and its members, especially young neuroscientists, on the legal and ethical requirements inherent to the use of animals in neuroscience research.

A second main goal is the outreach: to promote public education on these matters, since ordinary citizens and even patient organisations are often unaware how important the use of animal models is for medical research, and tend naturally to be opposed to such research. The third CARE objective is to provide a rational alternative, at both the national and international levels, to the groups attempting to stop the use of animals in research, to support researchers under attack, and respond to media when the use of animals in research is questioned.

To publicize these themes CARE has employed several strategies. CARE workshops have been and will be organised at the meetings of the national neuroscience societies that belong to FENS, at each FENS Forum and IBRO World Congress. Thanks to a formal agreement, CARE lectures are offered at all courses of the FENS-IBRO European Neuroscience Schools Programme. Similarly, thanks to a synergy with the FENS Network of the European Neuroscience Schools (NENS), both CARE lectures and workshops are organised at the academic institutions with PhD programmes in neuroscience affiliated to NENS.

CARE educational activities have been organized in Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, and the UK. About a thousand students and faculty members of FENS-IBRO Schools, including the new school of the program organised jointly with the Society for Neuroscience have attended CARE lectures.

CARE has promoted the creation of committees at the national level (such as CARE-France, etc.), so as to form a network that can work and act in a coherent fashion. Virtually all FENS national neuroscience societies have designated a liaison with FENS-CARE and are creating national committees to reach the overall goals of strengthening the support to neuroscience research across Europe.

FENS 2012 Special Event

The new EU Directive on the use of animals in research will have to be adopted by each EU member state by the end of 2012. Thanks to its network of liaisons, CARE has constantly monitored this process of implementation, and has provided expert advice on animal research issues to all scientists involved in the legislative process in their countries. It is reassuring to say that so far this process has evolved in a rather smooth way across the EU and there is a good chance that the Directive will be implemented in each member state without additional restrictions on the use of animals.

To operate at a more global level, FENS-CARE entertains close relationships with its transatlantic partner, the Society for Neuroscience Committee on Animals in Research (SfN-CAR), through the presence of a FENS member within SfN-CAR and vice versa. For the next two years, Michael Goldberg will be with us, while Stefan Treue will represent us within SfN-CAR. As a start-up initiative, the joint FENS-SfN statement on animals in research has been signed also by the Japan Neuroscience Society and, thanks to IBRO, has been sent for signature to all the neuroscience societies of the world. We are firmly convinced that only by creating and strengthening an international coalition will it be possible to combat all the efforts of those who criticize the use of animals in research to bring responsible, humane animal research to a premature end.

In this difficult task we need you all and your action at national level, since CARE belongs to all of us.

FENS Committee on Animals in Research (CARE)

The Neurobiology of Emotion 

Pico Caroni
Pico Caroni

The first of a new series of high-profile meetings in the neurosciences in Europe jointly sponsored by FENS and ESF (The Dynamic Brain Conferences), was held in Stresa, Italy from November 11th to 14th (

The co-chairs Ray Dolan (University College London) and David Anderson (Caltech) put together a stellar program consisting of 30 talks by invited speakers and 14 short talks selected from abstracts submitted by the ca. 160 participants.

Group picture, Neurobiology of Emotion conference

The Conference included to about equal extents studies in humans and animals, and addressed fundamental issues concerning the nature of emotions, the states that underlie them, and their behavioral manifestations. Overall, the Conference provided exciting insights as to how neuroscience can and will contribute to understanding how affective states and emotions influence perception, learning, memory and behavior.

How to combine human and animal studies on emotion, taking advantage of access to human awareness and of mechanistic insights and causal relationships concerning neuronal circuits of emotion in model organisms was one major recurrent theme. Experimental evidence for internal states driving behavior was presented from work in flies, slugs, fish and rodents, providing conceptual frameworks to relate animal and human studies. Subjective perception of affective states might be a recent evolutionary acquisition in humans.

Image description

Further major themes included the impact of techniques to genetically control identified neurons to elucidate their role in behavior, the prominent role of attentional mechanisms in emotion-driven behavior, the role of emotions for homeostatic (i.e. self-protective) behavior, and the predictive power of specific systems interactions for the development of pathological conditions such as anxiety and chronic pain.

The 2013 Conferences will address:

  • The Neurobiology of Synapses: October 13th-16th
    Co-chairs: Nils Brose and Michael Greenberg
  • The Neurobiology of Action, October 20th-23rd
    Co-chairs: Sten Grillner and Ann Graybiel
Pico CaroniChair, Conferences Committee

FENS History Funds Awarded 

Subsequent to the evaluation of the proposals submitted to the Call of European Neuroscience History Projects, 4 projects were granted to be carried out in 2013, as following:

  • Isaac Costero and the In Vitro Cultivation of Human Microglia - by Payam Rezaie (Milton Keynes, UK) and Uwe-Karsten Hanisch (Göttingen, Germany);
  • Timelines in Neuroscience and Neurology - by Lucio Tremolizzo and Michele Augusto Riva (Milan, Italy);
  • Cajal and De Castro Now Open to the World - by Fernando de Castro (Toledo, Spain), Miguel Merchán (Salamanca, Spain), Javier De Felipe (Madrid, Spain) and Guglielmo Foffani & Antonio Oliviero (Toledo, Spain);
  • 3-Dimensional Images of Physiological Apparatus and Models with Historic Interest - by Zoltán Molnár and Damion Young (UK, Oxford) and Richard Brown (Halifax, Canada).
FENS warmly congratulates the awardees!
A New Online Project Funded by FENS History Grants is now available

We are delighted to announce the launch of The Rise and Fall of Phrenology in Scotland website as a contribution to the FENS History of Neuroscience Projects.

image description

The once highly influential field of psychology known as phrenology left behind a legacy of great historical interest, including the life and death masks of hundreds of individuals, many famous or infamous. Most are stored in various museums and are rarely seen. In this project, many of the most interesting were photographed and used in a website describing the items themselves, the people they portray, the history of phrenology and its central ideas.

David PriceProfessor of Developmental Neurobiology
The University of Edinburgh

More information on the funded history projects are available at:

Be with us at the FENS Featured Regional Meeting! 

FFRM2013 - Prague

CARE will be present in 2013 with a lecture, workshop or symposium at: 

  • all FENS-IBRO Schools
  • FENS Featured Regional Meeting (Sep 14th, Prague)
  • national meeting of the German Neuroscience Society (March 13th - 16th, Göttingen)
  • national meeting of the Neuroscience Society of Turkey (April 28th - May 1st, Izmir)
9th FENS Forum

Check the guidelines and eligibility information available online and start to prepare your proposal already now!

FENS-IBRO Schools in 2013


  • Synaptic stress and pathogenesis of neuropsychiatric disorders: March 24th - 30th, Bertinoro, Italy
  • Causal Neuroscience - Interacting with Neural Circuits: June 2th - 8th, Bertinoro, Italy
  • Brain Modulation of Pain Experience: June 9th - 16th, Siena, Italy
  • Transylvanian Experimental Neuroscience Summer School (TENSS): June 15th-30th, Pike Lake, Romania
  • 2013 Multi-site Sleep Training Workshop "From Sleep Science to Sleep Medicine”: July 18th - 23rd, Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Summer School in Neuroendocrinology: July 27th - August 2nd, Prato, Italy
  • Imaging Human Brain Structure and Function: August 25th - September 13th, Lausanne/Geneva, Switzerland
  • European Synapse Summer School: September 8th - 27th, Bordeaux, France

For detailed information, please visit:

This biennial prize donated by Wiley-Blackwell, publishers of EJN, will be given inrecognition of outstanding scientific work in any area of neuroscience.

This is a personal prize of 7.000 GBP

Application is open from January 1st to February 15th, 2013 through the FENS website.


Candidates must either be working in a European research institution or be of European origin if working outside of Europe. Individuals may apply themselves or be nominated by a FENS member.
  • The age limit is 35 years (at the nomination deadline)
  • The Award will be presented at the FENS Forum in Milan (July 5 – 9, 2014)
  • The awardee will be required to give a Special Lecture at the Forum and to write a review article for publication in EJN
For application and further information, please visit: 

Wiley Blackwell FENS EJN

FENS Calendar



As the year draws to a close, we take this opportunity to thank you for supporting FENS and contributing to the organisation's achievements.

I hope the new year brings with it a renewed focus and ambition. In the meantime we celebrate your endeavours to date and look forward to sharing your achievements in 2013.

Happy New Year! 

Marian Joëls
FENS President



Published quarterly by the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS)

Editorial Board 
FENS Communication and Publication Committee

  • Javier Cudeiro
  • Malgorzata Kossut
  • Flavio Moroni
  • Kiki Thermos (Chair)
  • Yves Tillet

Editorial Staff 
Mihaela Vincze

Opinions expressed in the FENS Trimestrial Newsletter do not necessarily reflect those of its officers and councilors. FENS is not responsible for the content of this publication.

FENS Officers 
President: Marian Joëls 
Secretary-General: Sigismund Huck 
Treasurer: Hans-Joachim Pflüger 

For inquiries, suggestions or comments on FENS newsletter, please contact: