The JPND /JPco-fuND Symposium marked the culmination of 51 JPND supported research projects on neurodegenerative disease research as leading researchers on Neurodegenerative Disease (ND) research gather and exchange best practices and new ideas.

Held at the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and the Arts in Brussels, on the 27th and 28th November 2019, the two-day symposium is evident of the steadfast support JPND offers research consortiums, leading researchers and stakeholders, as they come together to find out about one another’s work, communicate their latest research findings from their completed projects, build new relationships, enhance existing ones and generate new ideas and collaborations.

JPND Chair, Professor Philippe Amouyel says: “As the first and largest global collaborative research initiative established to tackle the growing challenge posed by neurodegenerative diseases, JPND’s ultimate goal is to improve the scientific understanding of neurodegenerative diseases, provide innovative approaches for their prevention, diagnosis and treatment, and ensure that individuals receive optimal care and quality of life at all stages of their illness. This symposium aims to facilitate knowledge sharing and communication between the different research groups and to disseminate up-to-date research achievements from all completed JPND supported projects to relevant stakeholders.

Project topics presented ranged from Alzheimer’s to Parkinson’s diseases to rarer maladies such as Huntington’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, spinocerebellar ataxia and Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD).

JPND Chair, Professor Philippe Amouyel welcomed the 150 participants that showed up on the first day to the symposium, with an opening speech and an introduction to JPND. Professor Thomas Gasser, Chair of the JPND Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) gave an overview of JPND’s project achievements, as well as how JPND contributed to ND research in the past 11 years. Following this, SAB member and keynote speaker Professor Myrra Vernooij-Dassen spoke about the influence of social health research on dementia.

Over the two days, a total of 44 projects were represented by their project coordinators and consortia partners. Participants were also treated to 45 project pitches held within the 11 scientific sessions that are grouped into topics, ranging from Biomarkers to Genomics and Epigenetics, Protein Misfolding to Healthcare, Prevention and Treatment. These sessions were complemented by four different thematic workshops each day offering participants enriching sessions on Patient and Public Involvement in Research, Industry, Knowledge Dissemination and Data Sharing.

Participants also had many opportunities to network, find out more about one another’s work and research progress over coffee breaks and meal times. Young researchers from each consortium received a chance to present their latest research findings during the Young Scientist Poster Exhibition held over the two days.

The symposium ended on a high-note with a plenary session that saw panel members Professor Amouyel, Professor Gasser, Mr Karim Berkouk from the European Commission, PPI expert from Alzheimer Netherlands, Mr Marco Blom and PPI representatives Mr Chris Roberts and Ms Jayne Goodrick interacting with and answering audiences’ questions on ND research.

1The EU Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) is the largest global research initiative aimed at tackling the challenge of neurodegenerative diseases. JPND aims to increase coordinated investment between participating countries in research aimed at finding causes, developing cures, and identifying appropriate ways to care for those with neurodegenerative diseases.
2 In 2015, JPND launched a joint transnational co-funded call in partnership with the European Commission under the ERA-NET Co-fund scheme in three JPND priority areas: Longitudinal Cohort Approaches, Advanced Experimental Models and Risk and Protective Factors