European Dana Alliance for the Brain

The European Dana Alliance for the Brain (EDAB) is an organization of 260 eminent brain scientists, including five Nobel laureates, from 31 countries.

Launched in 1997, and modelled on the US-based Dana Alliance for the Brain Initiatives, EDAB is committed to enhancing the public's understanding of why brain research is so important.

EDAB brings the excitement of scientific progress to the general public and opinion-formers by working in partnership with charities, universities, schools, hospitals, the arts, the media and professional organizations.

Every March, EDAB coordinates Brain Awareness Week, during which hundreds of public events in dozens of countries celebrate the progress of brain research.

 

EDAB News and Events

 The William Safire Seminar on Neuroethics at 2014 FENS Forum of Neuroscience, Milan
Jointly presented by EDAB and the International Neuroethics Society (INS), the seminar, entitled "Basic research on the human brain.  How far can we go?  How far should we go?" was moderated by Barbara Sahakian, FMedSci, University of Cambridge and President of INS.  Speakers included Petra Huppi, MD, Geneva University, Itzhak Fried, MD, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, and Vincent Walsh, University College London.

Barbara Sahakian
Barbara Sahakian

The speakers, all experts in their fields, discussed several topics including MR imaging for understanding developmental brain disorders - a translational approach; single neuron recordings in neurosurgical patients, and cognitive enhancements and human brain stimulation: when does scientific laziness become fraud?

  William Safire Seminar on Neuroethics
L to R: Itzhak Fried, Petra Huppi, Vincent Walsh, Pierre Magistretti

• See also, How Far Should Brain Researchers Go? by Moheb Costandi.

FENS 2014 Neuroethics Press Conference
A press conference on the neuroethics of "Recording and Manipulating the Brain: How far can we go?  How far should we go?" was held during the 9th FENS Forum of Neuroscience in Milan, Italy on July 7, 2014. The speakers, Barbara Sahakian, INS President, Petra Huppi, MD, and Vincent Walsh, FMedSci, were also participants in the William Safire Seminar on Neuroethics - see above.    

Three Win Awards for Neuroscience Outreach
Three awards inaugurated by EDAB were presented at the meeting of the Federation of Neuroscience Societies (FENS) on July 7, 2014.  
Dr. Mara Dierssen (Spain) was presented with the Dana/EDAB Neuroscience Outreach Champion, also known as the David and Hillie Mahoney Award for an Individual's Contribution to Outreach
Mary G. Baker, MBE received the Dana/EDAB Lifetime Achievement Award for Outreach on Behalf of Brain Research
The Hellenic Society for Neurosciences was presented the EDAB-FENS Brain Awareness Week (BAW) Excellence Award

Outreach Awards 
L to R: Marian Joëls, Mara Dierssen, Mary Baker, Ed Rover, Hillie Mahoney, Spiros Efthymiopoulos, Barbara Gill, Pierre Magistretti 

 Cerebrum Feature "Mapping Your Every Move" by Edvard and May Britt Moser
 EDAB members Edvard Moser and May Britt Moser, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, discuss the most advanced surveillance system you will ever find is built into your own brain and nurtured by evolution. It comes equipped with a coding system that stockpiles and maps your lifetime of events in high definition. Through new research tools and insights, scientists are gradually coming to understand this coding system and its intrinsic mathematical principles. [Read article]

EDAB Inaugurates Neuroscience Outreach Program Awards
 EDAB, in collaboration with FENS established two prizes to reward public outreach projects and special contributions by individuals and organizations. The winners of each award will receive Euro 2,000.  For more information, click on links below:
• The Dana/EDAB Neuroscience Outreach Champion, also known as The David and Hillie Mahoney Award for an Individual's Contribution to Outreach will be awarded to an individual -- an artist or politician, not necessarily a scientist -- who has significantly contributed to the promotion of brain awareness, through continued outreach efforts over a period of years.
• The EDAB-FENS Brain Awareness Week (BAW) Excellence Award will recognize the outstanding presentation of a BAW outreach program in the past two years by an organization.  

The Brain Prize  
The Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Foundation’s € 1 million Brain Prize recognizes highly original advances in research on the nervous system. The 2014 Prize was awarded to EDAB members Giacomo Rizzolatti, Italy, Stanislas Dehaene, France, along with Trevor W. Robbins, UK, for their pioneering research on higher brain function. [Read more...] 


Past Events, Awards, News

 
 The Liberty of Knowledge: Remembering Rita Levi Montalcini 
February 4, 2014, New York City, Public Event and Reception
9 am - 1 pm, "Exploring Nerve Growth Factor", Italian Cultural Institute
5 pm - 8pm, "A Young Jewish Scientist in Fascist Italy", Center for Jewish History
See article based on above event "The Discovery and Potential of Nerve Growth Factor" 

Ninth Annual Staying Sharp Event presented on 22 May at the Royal Society 
On May 22, EDAB presented a Staying Sharp program, organized by Sylvie Hammerson, in collaboration with University of the 3rd Age (U3A) at the Royal Society. Professor Tom Kirkwood, Newcastle University Institute for Aging and Health, gave a lecture on Enriching Your Future to an audience of over 200 people at the Royal Society. This was the ninth annual Staying Sharp event presented by EDAB.

EDAB Member Rita Levi-Montalcini Dies - Shared Nobel for Work on How Neurons Grow
Italian neuroscientist Rita Levi-Montalcini’s 1952 discovery of nerve growth factor, a molecule that promotes the survival and differentiation of neurons, was key to understanding how diseases such as tumors and dementia develop. [Read more... exit disclaimer]

The William Safire Seminar on Neuroethics at the FENS Forum of European Neuroscience in Barcelona

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In recognition of his early involvement and support for the field of neuroethics, EDAB renamed its neuroethics seminar at the July 2012 Barcelona meeting of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS), The William Safire Seminar on Neuroethics.

Jointly presented by EDAB and the International Neuroethics Society, the seminar’s topic was “Invading the Brain: What Are the Ethical Issues on Invasive Treatments for Brain Disorders?” Panelists included: Helen S. Mayberg, M.D., Emory University; professor John Rothwell, University College London; Damaan Denys, University of Amsterdam; Roger Barker, University of Cambridge;  and EDAB executive committee member Carlos Belmonte, who served as the moderator.

The speakers, experts in the fields of deep brain stimulation, cell transplantation, and gene therapy, discussed the potential for these techniques in treating debilitating brain diseases as well as the ethical issues that can arise from their use.

If you are interested in learning more about the William Safire Seminar in Neuroethics further information is available in the resources below:

Neuroscientists and the Law 
The Royal Society recently released a report, entitled Neuroscience and the Law, that focuses on the impact of neuroscience research on the practice of law. Several members of the European Dana Alliance for the Brain (EDAB) were members of the Working Group that produced the report, including Professor Alan Baddeley, Sir Michael Rutter, and EDAB Executive Committee member Professor Wolf Singer. The report is part of a larger project called Brain Waves, which aims to investigate advances in neuroscience and their effects on society and public policy. Brain Waves is overseen by a Steering Group, chaired by EDAB Executive Committee member Professor Colin Blakemore.

FINANCIAL TICKING TIMEBOMB FOR BRAIN DISORDERS IN EUROPE 
For some years we have known that we are living longer and Governments have long been warned about the social and economic consequences of an ageing population.  A new report by the European College on Neuropsychopharmacology and the European Brain Council talks of a financial ‘ticking time-bomb’ across Europe.  And the problem is now: one in three people in 2010 suffered a brain disorder or was caring for somebody with one - and the figure is rising.

The report, entitled, ‘The size and burden of mental disorders and other disorders of the brain in Europe 2010’, was published in European Neuropsychopharmacology (2011 21, 655–679). Hans-Ulrich Wittchen and colleagues from 19 European centres carried out a study covering 30 countries (the European Union plus Switzerland, Iceland and Norway) with a combined population of 514 million people.  They investigated all major mental disorders such as depression, bipolar disorders, anxiety disorders, insomnia, addiction and schizophrenia,  and several neurological disorders, including stroke, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Previous studies underestimate the burden of brain disorders in the EU which currently costs Europe almost €800 billion a year.

The true size of “disorders of the brain” is considerably larger yet less than one third of all cases receive any treatment.   The cost of treating brain disorders, such as depression, insomnia, Parkinson's and stroke, has more than doubled in just six years, according to the study.

Lead author of the report, Professor Wittchen, from the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, said: “We have to address two high priority issues. First, the immense treatment gap for mental disorders has to be closed. Because mental disorders frequently start early in life, they have a strong malignant impact on later life. Second, both groups of disorders share many common mechanisms and have reciprocal effects on each other. Only a joint approach covering the spectrum of disorders of the brain across the lifespan will lead to an improved understanding of the causes and improved treatments”.

The most frequent disorders are anxiety disorders (14 percent), insomnia (seven percent), major depression (almost 7%).  More than four percent are alcohol and drug dependent.  Attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorders occur in five percent of young people, and one percent of people aged 60-65 has dementia, rising to 30 percent among those aged 85 and above.

The ECNP and the EBC are calling for action to be taken as a priority to include substantially increased funding for basic, clinical and public health research in order to identify better strategies for improved prevention and treatment for disorders of the brain as the core health challenge of the 21st century.

 

Free Resources from the European Dana Alliance

 

The European Dana Alliance for the Brain offers a wide range of free publications on topics about the brain as well as health awareness and patient information resources.

The publications produced are available in several languages including English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Recently, Hungarian, Czech, and Polish have been added to the EDAB publication list. All are available to download in PDF form.

Our Staying Sharp Series provides information for patients, carers, health professionals and families. Topics covered in this series touch on Chronic Health Issues, Depression, Learning Throughout Life, Memory Loss and Aging and Quality of Life.

For interests in Brain Research our Annual Report on Brain Research describes and interprets important advances in neuroscience of the previous year.

We also have resources for teachers and secondary school students with Mindboggling and More Mindbogglers which is packed with information for the brain in fun format of games, riddles and puzzles.

For those who wish to have those common questions about brain research answered there is our pamphlet Q&A: Answering your Questions About Brain Research. This will provide answers to commonly asked questions about the brain and its disorders e.g. how brain-imaging techniques have affected neuroscience research.