JPND SYMPOSIUM 2022
The 2022 JPND /JPco-fuND 2 Mid-term Symposium brought together more than 100 participants of JPND-supported research projects on neurodegenerative diseases to exchange best practices and new ideas in Brussels.
Leading researchers from 30 JPND-supported projects from the JPND/JPcofuND 2 calls of 2017 to 2019 gathered at the Royal Museums of the Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels on the 28th April 2022, to attend the much-anticipated full day symposium on neurodegenerative disease (ND) research. 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 says: “In Europe alone, 380 million people suffer from brain diseases. Treating these cost 800 billion euros per year. To tackle this growing challenge, we need to work together by aligning our research with different countries and the European Commission (EC). JPND is working closely with the EC and other European initiatives to build a partnership in Brain Health. The JPND/JPNDcofuND 2 symposium, as requested by both researchers and patients, aims to facilitate knowledge sharing and communication between the different research groups and patients, not only to allow for the dissemination of up-to-date research achievements from all completed JPND supported projects to relevant stakeholders, but also to allow patient participants who live with ND to share their needs and to raise awareness of how we can better answer to these needs.”
Professor Amouyel kickstarted the event and its first plenary session titled “Research Infrastructure for Neurodegenerative Diseases” with a welcome address to the 107 participants, including 23 representatives from funding organisations and/or JPND governing bodies from eight JPND Member States in attendance. This was followed by presentations on the research infrastructure for ND by Dr Johanna Bischof from EOSC-life and Dr Philippe Vernier, the French representative for EBRAINS.
Following the first plenary session, participants took part in different scientific sessions of the 2017 to 2019 JPND calls. A total of 30 projects were represented by their project coordinators and consortia partners in parallel scientific sessions throughout the morning. The six scientific sessions were grouped into different call topics, ranging from Personalised Medicine to Health and Social Care to Pathway Analysis. These scientific sessions were complemented by panel discussions after the presentations. Each panel discussion was conducted by a Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) representative, the project coordinator pitching the project and a member of the JPND Scientific Advisory Board (SAB).
Participants also had numerous opportunities to network, discover one another’s work and research progress over coffee breaks and lunch time. Young researchers from each consortium received a chance to present their latest research findings during the Young Scientist Poster Exhibition held in the networking areas. A total of 20 posters were presented.
The afternoon began with a second plenary session titled “JPND Global Approach” moderated by JPND Management Board (MB) member Dr Zvezdan Pirtošek and JPND communications manager, Ms Karin Yeo. JPND Chair Professor Amouyel and JPND MB member Mr Peter Volasko opened the session with introductory speeches on the importance of engaging the EU-13 nations in JPND’s combat against ND.
Representatives from some of these EU-13 countries came together to present the state of of play on ND research in their respective countries. Audience heard from Mr Argo Soon from the Estonian Research Council, Dr Elka Stefanova representing Serbia. Dr Pirtošek from Slovenia spoke about the Balkan and Southeast European perspectives on ND. The session culminated in EC representative Karina Firkaviciute giving a presentation on Widening Measures in Horizon Europe.
An audience session chaired by SAB member, Professor Stefano Cappa took place after the plenary session. Panel members Professor Amouyel, Professor Thomas Gasser (JPND SAB Chair) and PPI representatives Ana Diaz-Ponce and Kevin Quaid interacted with audience and answered their questions on ND research.
The symposium concluded with a Young Scientist Poster Award Presentation chaired by both Professor Amouyel and Professor Etienne Hirsch who gave out three prizes to the poster prize winning researchers.
The JPND/JPcofuND 2 mid-term symposium was a resounding success. It is testimony to the invaluable support that JPND continues to offer to research consortiums, leading researchers, stakeholders and patients of ND, providing them with a crucial platform to make new inroads into the challenging landscape of neurodegenerative disease research.