“Engage now and fully, because JPND is addressing the challenges of your society, which are growing exponentially! And it is even providing some solutions already!”

What do you think is the main benefit for your country in participating in JPND?
The benefits are multifold. Our participation in JPND is stimulating the Ministry of Health to finally develop a National Plan for addressing Neurodegenerative Diseases. Slovenian researchers are also focusing on this area and follow the funding calls. The JPND Strategic Research Agenda is a kind of “lighthouse” for Slovenian policymakers in diverse Ministries and Research Performing Organisations. In addition, an informal group of the “Young Leaders for Promotion of Dementia-related issues” is being created, which is influenced by JPND efforts in this area. Alzheimer Europe also held its regular meeting in Slovenia in 2015. A project proposal for a “Teaming” call has been successful in the first phase, also due to the important research component on dementia.

And your Ministry? Are there benefits to being a member of the JPND Management Board?
Yes, certainly, for the same reasons. JPND efficiently addresses the problems that are already very serious in our country and will be even more dramatic in the future. Therefore we have to prepare adequately and quickly for these new challenges ahead. We are trying to stimulate our Ministry of Health and other Ministries to more actively organize themselves towards creating effective solutions for the increasing problems deriving from the challenge of dementia. Participation in the MB of JPND supplies us with information and understanding of the complexity of the phenomenon.

What is the general perception of JPND in Slovenia?
JPND is relatively well-known and appreciated among the following stakeholders in Slovenia: ND field researchers as well as some clinicians and diagnosticians; policymakers at the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport and the Ministry for Health; Young Research Leaders who are promoting the campaign against dementia; Slovenian Members of the European Parliament; Civil society organisations dealing with this phenomenon (e.g. “Spominčica”).

How are Slovenian researchers performing in JPND initiatives?
So far they have participated only in the first call – harmonisation of biomarkers. Two Slovenian research groups were successful in this call, which was an excellent result for a small country like Slovenia. Unfortunately, due to cuts in the National State budget, we have not been able to participate in more calls so far.

Are there initiatives in Slovenia for supporting researchers who wish to apply for JPND funding?
At the moment there exists only the strivings of the Directorate for Science at the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport for funding to be reserved in the 2016 National State budget for participation in the planned JPND calls for that year.

March 11, 2016