It is now widely acknowledged that research in neurosciences is a major scientific challenge for the XXIst century. Understanding how the brain works is certainly of general interest. In addition, neurosciences are important for the development of new technologies, including for better interfaces between humans and machines. But perhaps more importantly for the public, progress in neurosciences is also critical for improving the treatment of neurological or psychiatric diseases. About a third of the total burden of diseases in Europe is due to neurological or psychiatric conditions. Understanding the causes and mechanisms of these diseases will ultimately allow finding efficient strategies for their prevention or treatment. Such progress will very much depend on neuroscience research.
The objective of the ERA-NET Neuron is to improve collaboration between national agencies in charge of funding neuroscience research in Europe, in order to coordinate and optimize their practices. One aim of Neuron directly relevant for researchers is to organize common calls between the participants to the ERA-NET. The first step in this process is to identify topics for the call which will have an added value for the field at a European level. In order to do that, the consortium will organize workshops at which experts will summarize the current questions and recent advances in specific areas of neurosciences. These workshops will help the Scientific Advisory Board to make recommendations to Neuron. The Paris workshop, organized by Inserm and CNRS was the first of this series. It was devoted to neurodegenerative diseases and included remarkable presentations on various aspects of the field from basic to clinical research. The efficacy of this first workshop is underlined by the fact that it led the way to a common call which has already been launched.