September 2015

Message from the President - September 2015
ECNP e-news
Message from the president
Tuesday 29 September 2015

Guy Goodwin

It was great to see everyone in Amsterdam. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the ECNP Office and our PCO, Colloquium, for such an excellent logistical performance. And the content was really excellent too. But I suppose what really impressed me was the buzz that young people unfailingly bring to the congress now. Notwithstanding all the current pressures, neuroscience has a fantastic future and its application is a promise patients and their families can take hope from.

Patient involvement is something we plan to try and make real in the coming year. In Amsterdam we opened the congress with a session for carers and the presentation of the ECNP Media Award to Mary Baker for her inspirational advocacy on behalf of patients. The carer session underlined the hunger for high-quality information to be provided by trusted experts about mental disorders. This converges with the need we perceive for patient advocates to understand the value of science investment and how the return on that investment will come to them or to future generations. Moreover, patients and carers can help us to prioritise translational research and improve our measurement of outcomes.

Since the Amsterdam meeting it has been announced that Tom Insel is to step down from his post as head of NIMH at the end of the year. Tom has been a good friend of ECNP, notably finding time to contribute to the Nice Workshop, the meeting on biomarkers and our Summit on the crisis in pharma investment in industry. His enthusiasm for applying neuroscience to clinical problems, his intelligence and his unfailing courtesy in debate have marked him out as an exceptional person. Being in charge is too often a thankless task – you can’t please everyone – and defending a budget for psychiatric research in the teeth of ignorance and prejudice (not least that of our friends in general medicine) is yet more so. We should all be grateful that such a talented person took it on.

However, what is even more interesting to me is where Tom is heading next year, to work for Alphabet, which now subsumes the founding company Google. Google had become much, much more than a search engine. It was and Alphabet now is a massive tech conglomerate, and its commitment to finding new solutions for the delivery and management of health care should interest all of us. That their initial focus appears to be mental health is fascinating. It is a development that may well prefigure where applied neuroscience increasingly looks for future industrial partnership. It is hard to over-estimate how important this may be. Tom’s own account of his decision is available here.  

Guy Goodwin
ECNP President

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