EC launches €150m brain research fund

The European Commission (EC) has created a €150m fund for brain research to launch the European ‘Month of the Brain’ – a campaign to raise awareness of the challenges and successes in brain research.

The fund will cover 20 new projects in brain research and bring the total EU investment in the area since 2007 to more than €1.9bn.

None of the projects can be named at the moment as the grant agreements have not been finalised, but, according to the EC, they cover key areas of brain research, such as traumatic brain injury, mental disorders, pain, epilepsy and paediatric conduct disorders.

The pharma industry is expected to be involved, particularly in the areas of mental disorders, epilepsy and paediatric conduct disorders.

European research, innovation and science commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn explained that extra funding for research could help counter wider healthcare costs in the long term.

“Treating those affected [by a brain condition] is already costing us €1.5m every minute and this burden on our healthcare systems is likely to rise as our population ages.

“Brain research could help alleviate the suffering of millions of patients and those that care for them. Unlocking the secrets of how the brain works could also open up a whole new universe of services and products for our economies.”

Elsewhere in the European Month of the Brain, a series of events are planned throughout the continent for decision-makers, stakeholders, the media and the public.

These include two key events: a conference in Brussels on May 14 to showcase European projects in the field and outline future scientific challenges and a conference in Dublin on May 27 to 28 on European foresight policy for brain research and healthcare.

The EC’s announcement comes one month after President Barack Obama announced a $100m investment for research into the human brain in the US.

Dubbed Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN), the US initiative covers similar ground as the EC project, including finding new ways to treat, cure, and even prevent brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury.

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