Connecting European Neuroscience

New FENS Initiative: History of European Neuroscience

19 May, 2010 in FENS News

New FENS Initiative: History of European Neuroscience

FENS has launched a new initiative to fund projects aiming to support the interest in the history of European neuroscience.

In order to promote this initiative the FENS President Prof. Dr. Helmut Kettenmann addressed the presidents of the FENS member societies with the letter below:

To the Presidents of the FENS Member Societies

With this letter I would like to propose and promote a new FENS initiative, namely support for interest in the history of European neuroscience. One way of achieving this is to initiate a competition for projects that encourage the wider understanding and dissemination of material concerned with this topic. To this end we will provide three grants for outstanding projects which document the history and development of neuroscience in Europe. The projects will be funded with up to € 3.000. I would like to request that you encourage neuroscientists in your society to develop ideas and to apply for these grants. We are particularly keen to support the use of new electronic media to disseminate such information.

We have just created a new page on the FENS website (see "History") as an appetizer and we would like to encourage European neuroscientists to actively develop this page.

As examples, we have created links to video biographies which have been launched by the Society for Neuroscience and the German Neuroscience Society. This, however, should be only one avenue to illustrate the rich history of the neurosciences in Europe. Jacques Epelbaum, for instance, informed us about an activity in France: the yearly Alfred Fessard lecture. It aims to celebrate a famous scientist close to retirement who summarizes his/her career in that lecture. Recent speakers were Bernard Bioulac, Christine Petit, Yezekhiel Ben-Ari. These lectures could be taped and edited to 20 minutes video.

The proposed projects should be very creative. I could also imagine video tours through important historic sites such as the Cajal Institute, the Anton Dohrn Station in Napoli or Virchow's collection at the Charité in Berlin, but I am sure that there are more ideas out there. We are anxious to see what the scene has to offer.

We have persuaded Nick Wade, from the University of Dundee, to act as an ad hoc chairman to coordinate these activities. Nick Wade is an active member of the International Society for the History of Neurosciences and we are planning to coordinate our FENS activities with theirs. In addition, Jacques Epelbaum, chair of the FENS Communications and Publications Committee, is also involved. If this pilot phase proves to be successful, FENS may consider that it could become a standing committee.

I think that this is a wonderful opportunity to raise a monument for some of the most famous neuroscientists of Europe and to preserve commemoration for future generations. We could link our material together and create a larger virtual platform on the history of neuroscience in Europe.

I would very much appreciate receiving your opinion on this proposal. Please send me comments as soon as possible. The deadline for submitting proposals and applications for funding is June 30, 2010.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me.

With best regards
Helmut Kettenmann

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