Connecting European Neuroscience

Season's Greetings from the FENS President

21 December, 2020 in FENS News

Read the end-of-year message from FENS President Jean-Antoine Girault and learn more about the plans of FENS for 2021.

Dear colleagues, dear friends,

As we approach the end of a quite unprecedented year, I would like to begin by sharing my heartfelt hopes with all of you for 2021. 

We have faced considerable professional challenges over the past months and many of us have been personally affected by these difficult times. Work in laboratories and universities has been strongly impacted, with many important activities delayed. Just like its members, FENS has had to adapt to the new circumstances without any forewarning. However, from what I have seen around me, and in many other countries, the neuroscience community has shown itself to be extremely resilient. Despite the challenges we have faced, we have managed to come together as a community.

For FENS, the turning point in 2020 was the decision to convert our Forum in Glasgow into an online meeting, at a time when the concept was unknown to most of us. I would like to thank my predecessor, Carmen Sandi, as well as the previous leadership and the Host Society Committee who took the right decision at the right time. I am very grateful to all of those who were involved, and firstly to the FENS staff and their partners, for their incredible energy and creativity, but also to all the participants from Europe and across the world who made the Forum 2020 an amazing success. Facilitating scientific exchange is at the heart of FENS mission and I am particularly proud that the format allowed delegates from around the world to participate. This remarkable result is an opportunity that FENS will be building on for future meetings and activities.

2020 was also a time we used to consolidate our activities. FENS has fuelled its commitment toward diversity and equity through its interaction with, and support of the ALBA Network. This network has raised considerable attention worldwide as the issues it addresses are ubiquitous and the awareness of their importance is increasing. We are proud to underline that FENS was at the origin of this initiative which is also supported by two key international neuroscience organisations, SfN and IBRO. I strongly encourage neuroscientists throughout the world to get involved and join this important effort.

In 2021, we will hopefully see a progressive return to a normal situation but in the meantime FENS will continue supporting the neuroscience community through online activities. I wish a lot of success to our national and single discipline member societies who will be organising their meetings in 2021. We are also looking forward to the FENS Regional Meeting, jointly organised by the Polish Neuroscience Society and the Lithuanian Neuroscience Association. Taking place on 25-27 August 2021, this virtual meeting will allow for worldwide, easy access to a regionally rooted event in which I encourage you all to take part.

Finally, preparations have already begun for the FENS Forum 2022, on 9-13 July in Paris, France. We hope you have already noted down these dates in your calendars and that you will join us: we will be launching the call for symposia and technical workshops in March 2021 and look forward to your proposals.

The current period is also an opportunity for FENS to prepare its strategic plan for 2022-2030. We have launched an internal review process to assess the strengths and weaknesses of its functioning and are very much looking forward to receiving the advice of our member societies so as to better understand their vision of FENS for the future. In this context, we would also be happy to get feedback and suggestions from all neuroscientists who are welcome to express their opinions and thoughts to FENS directly. The participation of early-career neuroscientists, students or post-docs, is strongly encouraged. FENS will launch a call for input in 2021.

The end of the year is a time of warm feelings and joy with family and friends. Our large family is that of neuroscience and I am confident that, in many different ways, with lots of ideas and creativity, we will all be able to celebrate the end of 2020. We will look back on 2020 and realise how much we have learnt from this special year. One way to do so in science is to increase interactions, exchanges and collaborations: I invite you to take part in your upcoming society meetings, FRM and the Forum and help us demonstrate that, as a borderless community, we do better.

I wish you and your loved ones all the well-deserved joys of the season and true happiness for the coming year.

Jean-Antoine Girault 
FENS President
2020-2022

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