Season’s Greetings 2023 from the FENS President

21 December 2023

FENS News, Neuroscience News

Dear colleagues, dear friends,

The closing moments of 2023 are upon us, bringing an end to a year filled with challenges and, equally, with proud and noteworthy moments to celebrate. Reflecting on the milestones of the past year, it’s heartening to witness the growth of our collective strength and impact within the neuroscience community. Throughout my presidency, the interactions I’ve had with members, grantees, partners and the broader public have proven how much the values, mission and activities of FENS continue to be highly relevant and respected. Looking back at the events and activities supported by FENS this year, it is easy to understand why our organisation has maintained such a positive reputation and influence on the neuroscience community in Europe and beyond.

The FENS Regional Meeting in Algarve, Portugal, organised by the Portuguese Society for Neuroscience, brought together researchers from around the world to share their scientific discoveries. The European Neuroscience Conference by Doctoral Students (ENCODS) was organised once again by brilliant PhD students from a broad range of brain-related disciplines. Two Brain Conferences, generously supported by The Brain Prize, focused on flexible behaviour and brain cell states, and proved to be an enlightening experience for all participants. The new FENS-Chen Institute-NeuroLéman Summer School was launched and focused on Brain Dynamics in Health and Disease while our annual FENS-Hertie Winter School covered the Neuroscience of Mental Health. The FENS NENS Exchange Grants evolved into the FENS/IBRO-PERC Exchange Fellowships Programme this year and experienced a strong initial performance in community uptake.

The FENS-Kavli Network of Excellence (FKNE) organised short lab exchanges and their annual meetings as well as increased advocacy work to increase support for basic research. They also selected a new cohort of scholars who met in Bordeaux and started brainstorming new initiatives. The ALBA network persistently advanced its efforts to enhance awareness regarding inclusion and diversity, particularly through the advocacy of awards aimed at recognising underrepresented individuals worldwide. The network played a pivotal role in formulating and endorsing guidelines for the creation of inclusive frameworks, particularly focusing on gender and sexual diversity, encompassing the establishment of a comprehensive definition for identifying individuals who qualify as underrepresented.

The number and outstanding quality of each of these and many other equally impactful activities are a testament to the FENS commitment to advancing neuroscience and serving its community who is dedicated to driving neuroscience research, education and training, scientific knowledge exchange, outreach, advocacy and innovative dialogues and actions for future generations. A truly inspirational endeavour which is only possible thanks to the tireless work of FENS leadership, committee members and the administrative team in the central office.

Looking ahead, 2024 is already shaping up to be another significant year in neuroscience, especially with our upcoming FENS Forum, Europe’s largest neuroscience congress with a unique platform that connects thousands of experts from various neuroscience domains, promoting a collective understanding and influencing the trajectory of modern brain science. It will take place next year in Vienna, Austria, from 25-29 June in collaboration with our host societies, the Austrian Neuroscience Association and the Hungarian Neuroscience Society. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Dr. Sigismund Huck, Chair of the Host Society Committee, for his invaluable contributions and dedication in ensuring the success of this event. This gathering promises a dynamic scientific programme led by our Programme Committee Chair, Dr. Liset M. de la Prida. It will feature the broadest topical range yet in our plenary and special lectures, scientific symposia and technical workshops. New networking and special interest events, as well as open theatre sessions, a bustling exhibition hall and career development opportunities will provide even more activities from which to benefit. I particularly urge early career scientists to join us, as the Forum offers a vital step in shaping the future of science and leadership for the coming generations. The call for early registration is now open, along with abstract submissions, travel grant applications and Jump the FENS tickets, so don’t miss the deadline of 9 February 2024!

Finally, I would like to highlight the invaluable role that the European Journal of Neuroscience (EJN), the official journal of FENS, plays in advancing neuroscience and supporting the scientific community. First and foremost, it shares top-notch research with long-term impact across various domains of neuroscience, constantly increasing our understanding of the brain and nervous system in health and disease. EJN was also one of the first journals to implement transparent peer review and dedicate efforts to diversity, equity and inclusion by launching the Diversity Matters series in 2021 and Profiles of Women in Science in 2017. It also focuses on early career researchers with The Trailblazers of Neuroscience series and the FENS-Kavli Network Editorials. The journal welcomes diverse submissions, including negative results and replication studies, and is free for all FENS members. Most importantly, the proceeds from the journal are invested directly into the community by supporting FENS activities. I especially urge all FENS members to publish in our journal so we can serve you better!

In 2024, I will conclude my second and final year as FENS President. Over these two years, the federation has diligently focused on building on its strengths and laying stronger foundations for new growth, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every step of the way. I eagerly look forward to seeing what the future will bring, knowing that the best is yet to come.

With warmest regards,

Irene Tracey

FENS President 2022-2024