Connecting European Neuroscience

Summer 2011 Issue

Message from the FENS President  

Sten Grillner - FENS President 2010-2012
Sten Grillner,
FENS President

Advocacy of European Neuroscience - seed money from FENS and SfN
The brains of mankind and our many fellow creatures represent one of the most astounding achievements of biological evolution. One implicit goal of neuroscience is to understand ourselves through an understanding of our brains, how come we can perform all the different things that we can achieve, be rewarded through the dopamine system, recall the memories of our childhood or express a variety of emotions. Of course most of the current knowledge is developed through different animal models with which we have a common history. There are also the many devastating aspects of brain diseases in psychiatry, neurology and geriatrics - that make patients and their families suffer.

The costs for brain diseases represent an astronomic sum, around 35% of the costs for health care in Europe, but also in Japan and North-America. The only way to reduce the latter is through research! Once the mechanism of a disease is understood there may well be a magic bullet!! However, for the most part this requires an understanding of the basic mode of operation of CNS, whether on the gene, synaptic, circuit or cognitive level.

The neuroscience community has not been particularly good at securing funds for its research endeavours . we have roughly 50% of the research budget of that of cancer research although the costs for society only represent 50% of that of brain diseases. It is only to congratulate the Cancer research area to have done a very good effort. Neuroscience, on the other hand, will have to work in a more dedicated fashion to explain the importance of our field of research, at all levels from the local community in each town and city, to politicians and research councils at the national level to that of the European and global level. If we are of the opinion that brain research needs to be better funded it is indeed up to each and every one of us to contribute - who else should be the spokesman of neuroscience other than the neuroscientists themselves.

For this particular reason FENS together with SfN arranged an Advocacy Workshop at our new Bruxelles office, 16-17 June, 2011, with participation of 29 of the FENS societies. Most of the funding is at the national level, and there only the national societies can contribute. In some countries a very dedicated advocacy activity takes place, in most cases, however, there has been the Brain Awareness Week, but little more, which is far from sufficient when judged by the funding levels.

At the European level, it is the task of FENS to act directly and also within the European Brain Council (EBC), where basic and clinical neuroscience have joined forces with patient organisations and representatives for the Pharmaceutical and Biotech industry. EBC, initiated by Jes Olesen a Danish neurologist, has had a major impact not least through the careful documentation of the costs of brain diseases and a consensus document on important areas of brain research that has been very timely for the commission at the initiation of new framework programmes . the funding to brain research has actually increased at the European level since the formation of EBC. The current president of EBC, Mary Baker, and the vice president Monica DiLuca made an excellent and insightful contribution to the workshop.

From a long term perspective it is very important that the best scientists in a given area take part - to make positive and at the same time accurate evaluations of the perspectives of the different areas of research - and to avoid "hype" - the stem cell area although very important will, I suspect, suffer from this.

One purpose of the workshop was to present case histories of how different countries have gone about the advocacy task.

- SfN contributed to this workshop, to serve their large number of European members. SfN has a large dedicated effort devoted to advocacy, primarily at the US-level, no less than a staff of six - acting both in a proactive way at the level of Congress, at the state level, and at the same time having an organised large group of scientists prepared to react instantaneously to threatening proposals that come up in Washington or elsewhere. Bill Martin, David Caplan and Allen Segal reported on the SfN strategy.
- On the national level Marian Joëls, the president elect of FENS, has made an important contribution by forming alliances within Holland to improve the funding level substantially. BNA, the British Neuroscience Association, has asked their society about advocacy - and 60% of their members expected them to be active in promoting the funding of advocacy. Many others have contributed in different ways but cannot be mentioned in this brief editorial.
- Another contributor is EDAB, the European DANA Alliance for the Brain, co-chaired by Pierre Magistretti and Colin Blakemore. It promotes the public understanding of neuroscience in a variety of ways in interaction with the US DANA Foundation, and in particular the Brain Awareness Week.
- The written material for advocacy developed by EDAB, SfN and FENS was presented, and it will be available for each society to use directly or to be translated or adapted to the local conditions!

To facilitate novel advocacy initiatives from the different FENS societies, FENS and SfN have together reserved €50.000 for each of the next two years for advocacy grants that each national society can apply for - a type of seed money. The deadline is 30 September, 2011. The grants (either €5000 or €2500) will be funded as from 1 January, 2012. The applications will be evaluated by a common FENS - SfN committee in November 2011. We look very much forward to a number of creative initiatives!!

Let us all work together in a creative effort to enhance the funding of neuroscience in each corner of Europe, and make everybody aware of what a fantastical neural machinery we have in our head.

Sincerely, Prof. Sten Grillner Email: top

Editorial from the FENS Communication and Publication Committee Chairman  

Jacques Epelbaum
Jacques Epelbaum,

Dear FENS members,

The I'm writing this editorial at a time when the world is suffering from a global economic crisis. But is this the most important challenge for mankind in the next century? My bet it is that the demographic transition, the dramatic reductions in mortality followed by equally important reductions in fertility.

According to the most recent United Nations figures (see a special section on population at in the July 29, 2011 issue of Science), World population is expected to reach 7 billion in late October. It was only 2.5 billion in the 1950's. Much of the growth in these 60 years derives from the spectacular increases in life expectancy in developing countries, reflecting advances in public health and medicine, but also socioeconomical and cultural changes. In 2005-10, world life expectancy at birth is 67,9. It was only 47,7 in 1950-55. Today, in more developed countries, life expectancy at birth increases by 3 months every year. Even more strikingly, maximal life expectancy at the age of 80 rose from 25 days/year between 1960 and 1995 to 2.4 months/year from 1995 to 2003 (Vallin & Meslé, pulation & sociétés n°473, Ined, 2010). How long such trends will last? We cannot really answer this question because we do not know what innovative strategies will delay mortality even further but we can guess that neuroscience will be involved by coping with ageassociated neurodegenerative diseases and mental health impairments.

Why such an introduction to my editorial? Because, in the own words of the Research Innovation and Science Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn : "There is no time to lose….a step change in Europe's research and innovation performance is required if we are to achieve a sustainable exit from crisis". Therefore, in this issue, Robert-Jan Smits, Director General, DG Research, introduces a European innovation partnership pilot which has been launched on active and healthy aging. The objective is to increase the average healthy life expectancy by 2 years by 2020.

We also go on with our series on important European institutions with the Institute of Experimental Medicine of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and a network organization of six European neuroscience centers, the European Neuroscience Campus.

You will also find articles on ethical issues: promoting integrity in research publication, from the editors of EJN, and a joint statement on the use of animals in research from FENS, the Japanese Neuroscience Society and the Society for Neuroscience.

Also in this issue a short summary of the Advocacy Workshop which took place in Brussels on June 16–17, 2011, and a description of the European Medical Research Councils and European Science Foundation missions can be found.

Finally, I began this editorial by some comments on the economic global crisis but 2011 is also the year of important transitions in the Mediterranean world and we are happy to announce (with some lag) the creation of the Mediterranean Neuroscience Society.

Enjoy your reading.

Prof. Jacques Epelbaum Email: top

Towards Research and Innovation Union: Main Challenges  

Jan-Robert Smits
Jan-Robert Smits

Europe's wealth is built on its smart and entrepreneurial brains. The skills and ideas of our fellow Europeans are the most important resources for the sustainable growth of our economy and societies. During the previous centuries Europe has been a leading place for new discoveries and inventions. However, it now faces fundamental changes in the global landscape: new economies are emerging, driven by the ambition to transform themselves into leading innovation countries, such as China and India. If Europe wants to keep its social and economic model, it has to excel more than ever in education, research and innovation.

This will not be an easy task. Emerging economies have at their disposal a large and young population with a strong appetite for innovation alongside a myriad of producers and consumers for innovative products and services. In contrast, Europe is ageing: In 2011, it will reach its peak labour force to retired population ratio. From the next year on, the number of people potentially able to work will decrease while the number of those in retirement will continue to increase. In consequence, fewer and fewer employed persons have to create the necessary wealth to provide the health care and pension payments of more and more elderly Europeans. This will only be possible if Europe remains a producer of innovations.

This is why the European Commission has put research and innovation into the core of its Europe 2020 strategy and with the Innovation Union Flagship Initiative it has outlined Europe's path to generate new, transformative innovations over the next decades.

Innovations, by design, are unforeseeable. Nobody knows when, where and in what field the next breakthrough will occur. But we know the necessary preconditions to make them happen. Innovations need a critical mass of ambition and talent. Europe has to work harder on this front. It educates and trains many talented young graduates and researchers but it does not benefit fully from these investments, as the best brains are often attracted to locations outside Europe.

Fragmentation in funding should be avoided if Europe wants to reach these goals. The joint programming initiative on neurodegenerative diseases is a good example of how funding coordination helps to achieve a critical mass.

Excellent researchers and equipment are also necessary conditions for breakthrough discoveries but they are not sufficient to turn these results into economic wealth. The framework conditions have to change a lot in Europe to get good ideas faster to the market. To this end we need an integrated, strategic approach whereby our innovation objectives shape our policies in all relevant areas and innovation policy is steered at the highest political level.

At the European level we want to focus on a few key framework conditions: European patents, a reform of our standardization system so that it becomes faster and efficient in delivering interoperable standards, the use of public procurement to foster innovation, the improvement of access to capital in particular for SMEs – including venture capital, and the creation of a digital single market.

But improving framework conditions alone is not enough in itself to achieve the ambitious objectives of the Innovation Union. We should also take a fresh and constructive look at the well known challenges our society is facing, such as climate change, healthy ageing, and energy security. Each of those forces us to adapt our perspective and policy priorities. If we manage to address grand challenges through an EU-wide, integrated approach based on innovation, this will no doubt bring about a new source of opportunities for growth and jobs.

Better orienting the production of new knowledge and removing barriers to innovation are the keys to new highgrowth markets. Therefore, we need to make a better use of our scarce public funds in addressing grand societal challenges. In this context, the European Union is also embarking quickly in the development of European Innovation Partnerships. European Innovation Partnerships are not a new funding tool. They bring together all actors, from those conducting basic research all the way to the final users, including every important stakeholder in the innovation cycle to pool efforts in fighting the societal challenges.

A European innovation partnership pilot is already on track in the field of active and healthy ageing. Its objective is to increase the average healthy life expectancy by 2 years by 2020. In the context of active and healthy ageing, neuroscience will have a crucial role to play in coping with ageing related impacts on mental health. Whether for the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases or for keeping the cognitive capabilities of ageing brains high, Europe will have to rely on the productive research of European neuroscientists. In this spirit, we would like to encourage the community of European neuroscientists to continue to distinguish themselves through their excellent research while transforming successful academic results into business enterprises when great discoveries and breakthrough inventions provide the ground for highly innovative products or services.

Robert-Jan Smits Director-General for Research and Innovation
European Commission

The Institute of Experimental Medicine of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (IEM-HAS)  

Tamas Freund
Tamas Freund

The social burden and cost of brain disorders are enormous, and no serious progress can be expected in the treatment or the prevention of these disorders without research and new discoveries. With this watchword and under the leadership of Silvester E. Vizi (1990-2002) and European Brain Prize winner (2011) Tamás F. Freund since 2002 the Institute, founded in 1952, has undergone a dynamic development over the last 20 years. As a result, and following its site visit in 2004, the IBRO Science Advisory Board stated: "The IEM has succeeded in integrating into the international neuroscience arena, not only making Hungarian neuroscience highly respectable, but placing Hungary at the centre stage of world neuroscience."

The IEM is dedicated exclusively to basic bio-medical research in the field of neuroscience. This includes studies on neurotransmission, learning and memory, neuronal development, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, aggressive behaviours, ischemic and epileptic brain damage, neurodegenerative disorders and the central and peripheral control of hormone secretion.

The Institute is considered as one of the world leading research centres in the field of cortical network activity, its modulation by local inhibition and subcortical pathways, the nonsynaptic control of transmitter release, correlated synaptic physiology and molecular anatomy, and the operation of the CNS endocannabinoid system. Particularly important discoveries by researchers have been published recently on i) the localization and function of voltagegated ion channels (Andrea Lőrincz and Zoltán Nusser, Science 328: 906-909, 2010), ii) the control of the hippocampus by the median raphe nucleus (Viktor Varga et al., Science 326: 449-453, 2009), iii) the involvement of CNS endocanabinoids in neurological disease (István Katona and Tamás F. Freund, Nature Medicine 14: 923-930, 2008), iv) nonsynaptic transmission (Balázs Lendvai and E. Sylvester Vizi, Physiological Reviews 88: 333-349, 2008), and v) thyroid hormone signaling (Gereben Balázs et al., Endocrine Reviews 29: 898-938, 2008).

The tower of the IEM was built in 1964, and the adjacent Medical Gene Technology Unit was added in 2004.
IEM research groups and their leaders are as following:

Drug Research - E. Sylvester Vizi, Molecular
Pharmacology -Beáta Sperlágh,
Cellular Pharmacology - Tibor Zelles,
Cellular Neuropharmacology - János Szabadics,
Endo-crine Neurobiology - Zsolt Liposits,
Molecular Neuroendocrinology - Krisztina Kovács,
Inte-grative Neuroendocrinology - Csaba Fekete,
Cerebral Cortex Research - Tamás F. Freund,
Thalamus Research - László Acsády,
Cellular Neurophysiology - Zoltán Nusser,
Network Neurophysiology - Norbert Hájos,
Cellular and Developmental Neurobiology - Emília Madarász,
Molecular Neurobiology - István Katona,
Behavioural and Stress Studies - József Haller.

A new laboratory on Neuronal Signaling was established in June 2011 under the leadership of Judit Makara, returning from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus in Washington.

The research teams employ multidisciplinary approaches. Traditional, well-established methodologies (e.g. anatomy, electrophysiology, neurochemistry and pharmacology) are combined with novel approaches in cellular and molecular biology such as the use of transgenic animals and optogenetics, as well as with freeze-fracture replica labelling, 2-photon microscopy, and calcium imaging techniques. The major equipment and core facilities of the IEM support state-of-the-art technologies, and are accessible to every researcher, including undergraduate and Ph.D. students.

The IEM has 81 researchers (31 < 35 years, 40 women). Research groups are embedded into the international neuroscience community. They have obtained many collaborative grants and authored publications with more than 70 laboratories from 15 countries on 3 continents. Local and foreign funding enables the Institute to maintain a leading position in the international mainstream of neuroscience research. The strategies to preserve high standards of research staff include retaining top researchers by providing an optimal research environment, promoting young talents to become independent scientists, reversing "brain drain" by reclaiming and recruiting young top scientists from abroad. The Institute supports the international mobility of researchers, hosting several foreign scientists per year, and a similar number of IEM researchers visit leading laboratories in the world. Our aim is to raise the number of foreign researchers working in our research groups.

The IEM encourages the involvement of university students in research. The IEM has been involved in undergraduate and postgraduate training as part of a close collaboration with 3 universities in Budapest: the Semmelweis University Faculty of Medicine has a joint PhD School with the IEM (the János Szentágothai Graduate School in Neuroscience), the Péter Pázmány Catholic University has its Neuroscience Department in the IEM, and the Eötvös Loránd University conducts joint undergraduate and postgraduate training courses with the Institute. Considerable efforts are being made to bridge the gap between academia and pharmaceutical and clinical research through an increasing number of translational neuroscience projects, and a close collaboration with pharmaceutical companies and clinical researchers. These activities in the Institute meet the needs of European society and are in harmony with the research strategies and expectations of the European Union, leading to an increased chance of funding by EU Framework Programmes, and a better integration into the European Research Area.

The future of the IEM’s research is promising, firmly supported by the Institute’s solid financial basis and management. The IEM participates extensively in brain awareness and public activities. Its main message is that it is in the best interest of Hungary and of all EU countries to consider discovery research into the mechanisms of brain disorders as major priority.

Ferenc Oberfrank Ferenc Oberfrank Executive Director of IEM-HAS
Email:, Tamas Freund Director of IEM-HAS

ENC-Network, a new European Network for Graduate Training in Translational Neurosciences  

A.B. Brussaard
A.B. Brussaard

The European Neuroscience Campus Network (ENC-Network, see ) is a network organization of Neuroscience Centers in Europe with the aim to organize – and formalize – research collaborations, to collaborate on grant acquisition strategies and to create exchange opportunities at all levels of education and professional work. The ‘stepping stones’ in collaboration are two ITN Marie Curie programmes, called BrainTrain and SymBad, and both an Erasmus Mundus awarded Joint Master and Joint PhD programme in Neurosciences. The coordinating institute is the Neuroscience Campus Amsterdam (, other partner institutes include centers in Bordeaux, Zurich, Berlin, Goettingen and Coimbra.

The rationale to start the ENC-Network is that many leading research institutes in Europe in the field of neurosciences currently are facing globalization issues which can no longer be solved through individual initiatives or a focus on (inter-) national funding strategies in a reactive manner. In order to be able to face all new challenges that come with nowadays leadership, we have created a durable network of European Neuroscience Centers focusing on creating new opportunities for brain research, from molecule to bedside. The major partner institutes in this new European network organization have been selected on quality, ambition and capacity. The ENC-home institutes all have a long and established track record in MSc and PhD training in the field of Integrative Neuroscience.

The ENC partners have already discovered novel principles of how neurons pass information onto other neurons, and how the genetics of the brain directly determines neuronal connectivity up to the level of individual synapses, i.e. the connections between individual neurons. Also by working from bedside-to-bench we have found novel genetic variations of genes in particular patient cohorts. The coupling between the genetic makeup and the study of the function of the brain creates new insights into how prevalent brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are caused, how these diseases can be diagnosed early-on and how therapies varying from immunization, genetic stem cell therapy and/or deep brain electrical stimulation may provide relief of the disease symptoms.

It is essential that these novel insights in the basic elements of brain function and the causal mechanisms of brain diseases are passed on to new generations of neuroscientists, neurologists and psychiatrists in a timely fashion. The ENC-Network provides graduate training through original research in high profile research laboratories and brings together the EU top seniors and younger generations in a stimulating and accredited network. With more than 20 new MSc students and more than 35 PhD students already started, we have made the first major steps in synchronizing graduate training in Neuroscience in Europe. Many more students will be selected in coming years.

Director Prof. Dr. A.B. Brussaard Neuroscience Campus Amsterdam

EJN and Publication Ethics  

EJN is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE;, which is an international organization promoting integrity in research publication. Recently, EJN participated at a workshop on Ethics in Scientific Publishing that was organized by the Society for Neuroscience and took place at this year’s IBRO World Congress in Florence (Italy). We use this occasion to briefly summarize key elements of publication ethics for authors, reviewers, and editors. These principles are integral parts of the EJN Author Guidelines (

EJN abides to internationally recognized standards, such as the guidelines on Responsible Conduct Regarding Scientific Communication of the Society for Neuroscience. It follows the code of conduct of COPE and handles cases of alleged research and publication misconduct accordingly.


There is widespread agreement that authorship should be granted to all individuals who contributed substantially to a manuscript. It is as inappropriate to include “honorary” authorships as it is to deny authorship to investigators who made significant investigational or intellectual contributions to the study. Intellectual contributions include, but are not limited to, planning and design of the study, data collection and analysis, and writing of the manuscript. Lesser contributions to the study such as providing reagents, statistical consulting, or editorial assistance should be mentioned in the acknowledgments. Crediting individuals in the acknowledgement requires approval by these persons.

Although EJN does not require to specify the individual contributions of authors, all submitted manuscripts need to be explicitly approved by all co-authors. This statement needs to be included in the cover letter and confirmed during the submission procedure. All co-authors of a manuscript can be held responsible in case of publication misconduct. Corresponding authors (who are the contact persons for production and for post-publication enquiries) are requested to provide an institutional affiliation.

Declaration of competing interests

Competing interests need to be disclosed in the cover letter and in the submission procedure, as well as in the “Acknowledgements” section of the manuscript. It is the responsibility of the corresponding author to collect and declare this information. Competing interests do not preclude publication in EJN.

Re-use of data

If a manuscript contains data that were previously published or are included in a separate manuscript that is simultaneously considered for publication, the multiple and overlapping description of this evidence needs to be defined and justified in detail. Furthermore, re-use of data requires permission from the publisher. In essence, duplicate publication of data is unethical, as is, of course, the simultaneous submission of the same manuscript to multiple journals. Evidence previously published in abstract form (max. 500 words) is excluded from this rule.


It is the responsibility of the corresponding author to ensure the accuracy of the list of references. Improper citation of sources (including misspelling of the authors name and surname, wrong indication of volume or page numbers) precludes correct attribution of proper credit to other investigators.


The Random House Compact Unabridged Dictionary defines plagiarism as “use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work”. It is the responsibility of all authors of a manuscript “to give due recognition to published work relating to their submitted manuscript by way of correct reference and citation. All sources should be disclosed, and if a significant amount of other people's material is to be used, permission must be sought by the author in accordance with copyright law” (Ethical Guidelines for Publication; European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences).

Use of standard descriptions of experimental procedures and routine statements in multiple publications by the same author is allowed without being considered as “self-plagiarism”. As noted above, re-use of experimental material or results has to be explicitly cross-referenced.

Plagiarism is usually discovered by reviewers and/or readers familiar with the field and the author‘s work. Sometimes it is revealed based on abrupt changes of style within a manuscript.

In recent years, routine screening with internet search engines as well as use of sophisticated plagiarism detection software have indicated that plagiarism is more extensive than previously assumed. Depending on the degree of severity, discovery of plagiarism may require the publication of a correction, including the proper citation of the copied sources, or the retraction of the publication.

Data falsification and fabrication

Intentional data fabrication is a serious offense that undermines the credibility of science and the scientific and academic community. Fabrication can also have serious consequences such as, for example, invalid heath care decisions. Fabrications resulting from inappropriate research practices, such as ignoring conflicting data or removing outliers, likewise constitute major ethical violations and may lead to publication of incorrect conclusions. Editors are bound to pursue all allegations of data fabrication (and plagiarism).

Unintentional data falsification, such as improper use of statistics, invalid calibration, absence of control experiments, inappropriate experimental procedures, may also be considered unethical because it wastes resources and yields misleading publications. For these reasons, methods and experimental procedures need to be presented with sufficient detail to allow the replication of the study. Likewise, statistical methods and results require detailed description and explicit justification. Abiding to these instructions facilitates the evaluation of the scientific content of a submitted manuscript and thereby reduces considerably the burden of peer-review.


When selecting “preferred reviewers” during manuscript submission, authors should refrain from nominating prior collaborators or prior lab members as they may have an inherent conflict of interest. Conversely, reviewers who may have a conflict of interest are expected to decline the invitation to review. When agreeing to review a manuscript, reviewers implicitly agree to provide a careful, thorough, and timely evaluation. Reviewers are bound to confidentiality and cannot exploit the information gained by reviewing a manuscript prior to its publication, or to discuss its contents with colleagues and collaborators. They can seek advice from collaborators but these are bound to the same degree of confidentiality.

Responsibility and duties of editors

Editors are ethically bound to maintain the integrity of the academic record and required to act if they suspect misconduct. In particular, editors need to protect authors of plagiarized articles.

COPE has developed procedures and mechanisms for handling cases of alleged scientific misconduct. These measures include seeking explanations from authors, publishing corrections, considering retraction and, if necessary or appropriate, informing the author’s institution.


The majority of the points made in this brief article may seem obvious and concern rules and values that are well established in our field. However, editors and publishers are confronted with an increasing frequency of lapses. Thus, we thought it may be helpful to reiterate these basic ethical principles and, more importantly, to encourage training programmes to enhance the teaching of ethics in science.

The Editors of EJN
image descriptionJean-Marc Fritschy
image descriptionMartin Sarter

FENS-JNS-SfN Joint Statement on the Use of Animals in Research  

Our stance

The Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS), the Japan Neuroscience Society (JNS) and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) strongly advocate the responsible use of animals in biological and biomedical research. Animal models are vital and irreplaceable for scientific progress and in combating the devastation of human neurological and psychiatric diseases, which affect more than 1 billion people worldwide, and for improving veterinary health. Animal models must be used appropriately and within humane guidelines, carrying out research that maximizes scientific gain with the least amount of animal suffering. As scientists pursue these advances, we strive to replace and reduce the number of animals wherever scientifically justifiable, and continuously refine experimental procedures to improve animal welfare.

The impact

Animal research provides the basis for our understanding of nervous system function and the general physiology and biology of both humans and animals. It has been essential to nearly every major scientific breakthrough in neuroscience as well as to medical advances improving and saving the lives of humans and animals in the last century and will be equally essential to the next century's progress. Recent findings in animal research have led to a greater understanding of the mechanisms that underlie conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, stress, and drug addiction, and produced successful treatments and knowledge that will enable future advances for both humans and animals.

Research obstruction must stop, education and research must continue

Democratic forms of discourse have led to national and international laws and regulations that guide research, and should continue to be the basis for their further development. While we support freedom of speech and peaceful airing of diverse views, it is unacceptable that - in the pursuit of better health, understanding of disease and scientific progress - researchers, their families, associated businesses and communities face harassment, violence, and intimidation by animal rights extremists. As part of our dedication to democratic discussion and dialogue, our scientific communities are committed to expanding public awareness and information about the irreplaceable historic impact of responsible animal research and its continued essential role in scientific and medical progress.

Roh5erto Caminiti Roberto Caminiti Email: top

FENS-SfN Advocacy Programme  

The Advocacy Workshop organized jointly by the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN), took place in Brussels, on June 16-17, 2011. The workshop was attended by 54 participants from 29 countries.

Advocacy Group

Briefly, as presented by the FENS President, Sten Grillner, the workshop addressed the need for advocacy, both at the European Union and at national levels. The workshop was intended to present and discuss a palette of different strategies and materials used, or to be used, in different European and North American countries.

In addition, the information discussed during the workshop was meant to be used as a platform for designing an Advocacy Grant Programme for 2012 and 2013, financed jointly by SfN and FENS and to which the different national societies can apply.

Different themes were organized in 5 panels to allow discussion of the various facets of advocacy as presented by different speakers.

  • SfN advocacy strategy: strategies, tools and adaptations
  • What advocacy means to us (in Europe)
  • Engaging business leaders: strategies and experiences
  • Europe-wide advocacy strategies

Two keynote speakers were invited to present joint global efforts in advocacy: Mary Baker at the European level as President of the European Brain Council (EBC), and Pierre Magistretti at the international level as Secretary General of the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO), two organizations of which FENS is a member.

After the presentations, different breakout groups were set up for participants to discuss strategies and tactics for potential proposals and action. The results were then discussed in a plenary session.

The workshop ended with the presentation of an advocacy grant programme as jointly financed by FENS and SfN with a fund of 50.000€/year for two years, and intended as seed money to help national societies in setting up actions in the field of advocacy.

For more information please follow the links:

Prof. Jacques Epelbaum Email:
Advocacy Workshop

European Medical Research Councils (EMRC) - European Science Foundation (ESF) 

Lars Kristiansen
Lars Kristiansen

FENS and the European Science Foundation (ESF) are new partners in a series of high visibility Neuroscience conferences. Partners should get to know each other. FENS hardly needs an introduction to the readers of this newsletter: not everybody however may know ESF.

Our organizations have much in common: each is a pan-European platform, with a membership representing nationally linked science organizations and societies. FENS runs conferences: the ESF has been sponsoring, hosting or organizing international conferences for more than 30 years. It was established in 1974 as a shared platform for European scientists and currently has 78 member organizations – national research institutes, academies, learned societies and research funding agencies – in 30 countries. ESF does not itself fund research: it does, however, bring researchers together, it builds cross-border communities of scholars, and it works to explore new directions for research. And ESF, like FENS, has an informed interest in neuroscience that covers all science domains, from social science and the humanities to life science and applied biomedical research.

Between 1999 and 2004 the ESF European Medical Research Councils (EMRC) and the Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences (LESC) Standing Committees formed a high level working group to examine the need for infra-structures within the Neurosciences at the European level. Recommendations from this initiative included the establishment of a graduate Neuroscience curriculum within the context of a true European-wide network of Neuroscience institutes – something that to some extent has been implemented through collaborative international and EC initiatives.

ESF Building in Strabourg
ESF Building in Strabourg

Other areas where ESF has had its focus on the neurosciences include international and interdisciplinary programmes, including one on consciousness in a natural and cultural context, led by the ESF Humanities Team; and a research network of 11 national teams, CompCog, which focuses on comparative social cognition. Further, the prestigious Latsis prize, which is governed by the ESF, has been awarded within the neurosciences twice during the last decade (2002 and 2009) with the most recent prize going to Chris and Uta Frith, from London for their work on the human brain ( ).

The formal contact between ESF and FENS started in 2010 with a co-organized workshop on “European – US research collaboration” at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego. Following this successful collaboration, FENS and ESF have agreed to continue in partnering a conference series dedicated to the Neurosciences. More information on this exciting new initiative will soon become available through the FENS and ESF websites.

People who follow the debate on how pan-European science is to be organized in the future will know that ESF is at a crossroads where plans for its future activities are currently being discussed and refined. However, in this context of change, it is important to emphasise to the research community that all existing commitments will be honoured!

ESF is a grass-roots, science-driven organization with a long history of achievement. We organize and facilitate input from the scientific community on novel and inspiring ideas within the fast-moving world of science. This will also be the predominant manner in which the new conference partnership will be structured. This partnership therefore represents an opportunity for neuroscientists to bring in their ideas and expertise to guide and direct the conferences. This will ensure flexibility and spontaneity. I would, of course, like these conferences to stimulate new collaborations. That is ESF’s mission. But I should also hope they would identify important new areas of research. That, too, is ESF’s mission.

Lars Kristiansen ESF is Science Officer In the Biomedical sciences Unit, EMRC at ESF
ESF Logo

The creation of the Mediterranean Neuroscience Society - MNS 

Driss Boussaoud
Driss Boussaoud
President of the MNS
Reducing the gap.

Over the recent few decades, neuroscience research has made breathtaking progress in understanding the connectivity, physiology and chemistry of the brain. Yet we are far from understanding the brain’s mysteries in health, aging and disease. The western world is entering a new era in Neuroscience where unprecedented resources are put into initiatives that aim at bringing together the acquired knowledge in order to model the human brain. Yet, the gap between developed and developing regions must not increase. We must work hard to promote higher education and training in the developing regions of the world in order to allow researchers of those regions to contribute to what has become a worldwide endeavor, understanding the brain and beating its diseases.

MNS, born in Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Egypt), December 2009.

The Mediterranean area is one such region which possesses an important human potential of well trained researchers and highly motivated young students. The creation of the Mediterranean Neuroscience Society (MNS) has come as a natural consequence of increasing interactions among Mediterranean neuroscientists, thanks to the initiatives of Dr. Yehezkel Ben Ari (Marseille), Prof. Mohamed Bennis (Marrakech), and Dr. Marie Moftah (Alexandria). During the last meeting (December 2009), which gathered together more than 250 participants in the prestigious Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Alexandria, Egypt), the founding General Assembly decided to create the MNS, after important and open debates. The bylaws were discussed, and the first Council members elected.MNS, born in Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Egypt), December 2009. The Mediterranean area is one such region which possesses an important human potential of well trained researchers and highly motivated young students. The creation of the Mediterranean Neuroscience Society (MNS) has come as a natural consequence of increasing interactions among Mediterranean neuroscientists, thanks to the initiatives of Dr. Yehezkel Ben Ari (Marseille), Prof. Mohamed Bennis (Marrakech), and Dr. Marie Moftah (Alexandria). During the last meeting (December 2009), which gathered together more than 250 participants in the prestigious Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Alexandria, Egypt), the founding General Assembly decided to create the MNS, after important and open debates. The bylaws were discussed, and the first Council members elected.

The major tasks of the Council are to prepare the 4th Mediterranean Neuroscience Meeting in Istanbul from June 30 -July 4, 2012, and a cycle of annual MNS Neuroscience Schools (first School held in Samsun, Turkey, July 2-4 2011). Ultimately, we hope to develop supporting grants for students and young researchers to attend other societies’ meetings, and organize local events towards schools, professionals and large public.

Funding for research programmes needed.

Thanks to decisive action from international neuroscience organizations (such as IBRO, FENS, SFN, SONA and others) opportunities can be given to students and young researchers from the southern countries to attend meetings. Also, the European Commission has put important efforts into the development of its cooperations with the Mediterranean partner countries, through FP7 Cooperation Programmes (e.g. We now need to move to a more advanced level of support for neuroscience research in the area. Indeed, time is ripe for launching specific research programmes that target this region, to help southern labs build their physical infrastructure.

Challenges ahead.

The scientific challenge of advancing the frontiers of knowledge on brain function in health, aging and disease is a worldwide enterprise. It requires a close exchange of knowledge and know-how through scientific meetings, higher education, and advocating political and public support for research. The MNS will contribute to this endeavor, joining existing national and international organizations. But beyond science, in this particular moment in time where the Mediterranean region undergoes historical changes, it is our duty as scientists to contribute to building a better world.

Driss Boussaoud President of the MNS
MNS Logo

Websites on Neuroscience 

Scholarpedia on Computational Neuroscience Follow this link: to find out more about the online encyclopedia.
Neuroscience Education Resource

The Society for Neurosscience provides this website Neuroscience Education Resources Virtual Encycloportal NERVE gives access to information and tools for teaching about the nervous system and related health issues.

The brain from top to bottom / le cerveau à tous les niveaux This link provided by McGill University takes you on a guided tour through human brain and behaviour.


The 2011 FENS Featured Regional Meeting - Central European SiNAPSA Neuroscience Conference ’11 (SNC’11) takes place in Ljubljana, Slovenia from September 22 to 25, 2011.  

A joint project of neuroscientists from Slovenia, Trieste, Italy, and Zagreb, Croatia, SNC’11 will be an unprecedented regional neuroscience meeting and a unique opportunity for networking and future collaborations.

For registration details follow this link:

The SNC’11 programme ( ) includes plenary and special talks by Pasko Rakic, Colin Blakemore, Richard Frackowiak, Maria Grazia Spillantini, Barry Dickson, Palmer Taylor and Donald Sanders, fifteen thematic symposia, an educational workshop on affective neuroscience, a course on single fiber electromyography and nerve/muscle ultrasound, and the young neuroscientists forum.

The conference venue is the Cankarjev dom Culture and Congress Centre, located at the very centre of Ljubljana and within walking distance of all major hotels, shops, restaurants and main sights ( ).

FENS is looking forward to welcoming you there!

Ljubljana, Slovenia
Maja Bresjanac Email: top

FENS Forum 2012  

8th Fens Forum

For more information please go to .


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

Editorial Board
FENS Communication and Publication Committee

  • Erwan Bezard
  • Paola Bovolenta
  • Jacques Epelbaum (Chair)
  • Flavio Moroni
  • Kiki Thermos

Editorial Staff
Britta Morich

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: Sten Grillner
Secretary-General: Fotini Stylianopoulou
Treasurer: Hans-Joachim Pflüger

© 2012 Federation of European Neuroscience Societies