Message of the President - September 2013

Message from the President - September 2013
ECNP e-news
Message from the President
Monday 30 September 2013


This is a special edition of the presidential message for two reasons: this is the first message that is also a blog, linked to the President’s Blog; and this is my last message as President.

On 7 October 2013, during the General Assembly at the 26th ECNP Congress in Barcelona (12.15-13.15, Room F/Palau), the three-year term of my presidency and the current Executive Committee will end. The baton will be passed to Guy Goodwin, who will assume the role of the President of ECNP from October 2013 up to October 2016.

Hence, it is time for reflection on what has been accomplished in this term and to raise insights on potential future directions. I don’t intend to bore you with a “grocery list” of all our projects, so will focus on the 20 initiatives that I think are the most significant.

1. We developed a Code of Conduct (2012) – a first for the College – and this has been incorporated into our Bylaws. Special thanks go to Rael Strous, who developed the original draft, and ECNP Secretary Sven Ove Ögren.
2. We clarified our mission (2010). This was one of the first activities of the Executive Committee and through it we articulated our mission statement: “To advance the science of the brain, promote better treatment and enhance brain health.”

3. Two new ECNP Schools were opened: the School of Child and Adolescent Neuropsychopharmacology (2012), run by Alessandro Zuddas; and the School of Old Age Neuropsychopharmacology (2013), run by Robin Jacoby. In addition, the School of Neuropsychopharmacology in Oxford, run by Guy Goodwin, celebrated in 2013 its fifth iteration.

4. Six ECNP Seminars were carried out. These two-day sessions of intense interaction, co-ordinated by Educational Committee chair Celso Arango, were held in Russia (2013), Latvia (2013), Greece (2012), Romania (2012), Moldova (2011) and Estonia (2011).

5. The ECNP Certificate was launched (2012). Co-ordinated by ECNP Certificate Committee chair Koen Schruers, the Certificate offers a unique opportunity for junior College members to receive personal mentorship from an internationally renowned figure.

6. The Junior Members’ Advisory Panel (JMAP) was founded (2013), and formal collaboration with European Federation of Psychiatric Trainees (EFPT) established. JMAP’s first official activities will take place at the upcoming 26th ECNP Congress in Barcelona, under the direction of JMAP chair Florian Riese.
7. The membership structure was dramatically changed (2012), with the extra hurdle for non-European members cancelled (“the world is flat”); a symbolic fee (€15) introduced for junior colleagues from developing-economy countries in Europe; and the concept of ECNP Fellows announced (the mentors for the ECNP Certificate will be drawn from the fellows). These changes were overseen by (Membership Committee chair Gitte Moos Knudsen.

8. Communications were expanded and enhanced, including the “Messages of the President,” (2010) which have been sent out every month along with the President’s Blog launched last month; Breakfast Meetings with members and junior colleagues were held every day at the Congress (2012, 2013); and the monthly E-News bulletins were launched (2010).
9. E-media tools were introduced, such as smartphone and tablet apps as well as Twitter updates at the congress; a facelift to the ECNP website; the sending of E-News updates, the setting up of a Facebook page, and posting videos on YouTube.

10. 13 ECNP talks were held at national and international meetings, along with two mini-symposia, co-ordinated by the Education Committee, chaired by Celso Arango.

11. The Ambassadors’ Programme was initiated (2012), and now runs to 13 ambassadors. An Ambassadors’ Newsletter was developed (2013) and regular dialogue, including scheduled meetings at the congress, is carried out.

12. Major changes in the format of the annual ECNP Congress were implemented (2012), with an increase in the number of plenary talks from three to six, and an agreement with the Brain Prize Foundation on its annual winner delivering a plenary lecture at our congress. As well, the inclusion of science in the welcome ceremony (the keynote lecture), a congress app, the ECNP Plaza, the Scientific Cafés and Daily News newspapers were all introduced. The Scientific Programme Committee is chaired by Wim van den Brink.

13. The Scientific Cafés were launched (2012). The 15 cafés at the 26th ECNP Congress – Bipolar, ADHD, Junior Scientists, Computational, CBT, Schizophrenia, Brain connectivity, Immunogenetics, Down syndrome, Nomenclature, Epilepsy, Antisocial behaviour, Brain imaging, and NMDA – mark the second edition of this exciting initiative.

14. The ECNP Summits and Collaboration Forums (2011), organised by David Nutt, brought the field together to discuss critical challenges facing the future of European neuroscience.

15. Relations with other colleges of neuropsychopharmacology were deepened, and the – highly fruitful – collaboration with CINP, ACNP, and AsCNP on the Nomenclature Project was initiated, and is ongoing.

16. Three new committees were created, including the Finance Committee, the Junior Members’ Advisory Panel, and the ECNP Certificate Committee.

17.  The ECNP Networks initiative was enhanced (2012), with a new operating structure and five new groups: Addiction, Obsessive Compulsive, Suicide, Experimental Medicine, and, pending approval, PTSD. The Targeted Network Meetings (TNMs), held for the first time this year, provide four slots for the Networks for in-depth multidisciplinary discussion. These changes have been introduced by Guy Goodwin, chair of the Networks board, and scientific co-ordinator Nic van der Wee.

17. The Medicines Chest was set up (2012) under the leadership of David Nutt to provide a mechanism for scientists to access valuable tool compounds held but no longer used by pharma.

18. Channels to the public were opened, with the introduction of the ECNP Media Award (first presented in Vienna in 2012 by Awards Committee chair Julien Mendlewicz), the hosting of DepNet (in advance stages of implementation in Romania and in Israel) in collaboration with GAMIAN-Europe, and our ongoing Glossary Project under Jaanus Harro.

19. The cost structure of the College was systematically rationalised, allowing the College, by streamlining our operations, prioritising expenditure and eliminating “pockets of fat,” to fund a large part of the new initiatives from internal economies. Thanks to this work, overseen by the Finance Committee chaired by Nicoletta Brunello, we are now very well placed to face what promises to be a challenging future for the field.
20. The ECNP Bylaws were revised, bringing them up to date to take account of the College’s increasing scope and sophistication and tightening the governance structures. The new Bylaws were adopted on the occasion of our 25th anniversary in Vienna in October 2012. Special thanks go to Hans-Ulrich Wittchen and Michel Hamon of the original working group, and the ECNP Review Board, chaired by Bill Deakin.

This activity is the tip of the iceberg, and this was accomplished thanks to the dedication, enthusiasm, and hard work of the members of the Executive Committee (EC) and ECNP Office under the direction of Alex Schubert. The close trust between and commitment of the EC, the Office and our members continues to be the cornerstone of the College’s success.

Between October – the election of the new Executive Committee – and December, when the 2013-2016 EC will meet, is a very busy time as new committees need to be formed. During those days we at the EC scratch our heads trying to find members who are capable and willing to contribute. If you belong to this group, don’t hesitate to write to me. We want you to join us.

I hope to see you in Barcelona!

Meanwhile, take care,


Joseph Zohar, outgoing ECNP President


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I realize this is an older post, but it's still quite inamrtpot as this "neurogenesis" trope gets spread all over as a justification for prescribing antidepressants.(And its corollary -- that antidepressant-induced neurogenesis is necessary because depression causes neurological deterioration -- is heinous.)Anyway, there's been a 20-year uncontrolled field study of antidepressants with millions of subjects. We already know the value of the putative neurogenesis. Despite it, there is doubt antidepressants work better than placebo. A common side effect is sexual dysfunction -- clearly antidepressant-induced neurogenesis (if it exists) is not an unmixed blessing.And finally, emotional anesthesia is a common outcome of lengthy antidepressant usage. I question whether you can call this a victory over depression.So if antidepressants "work" by inducing neurogenesis, we have yet to see a functional benefit from it.

by: Taj (21/12/2013 07:06)

With regards to Moncreiff's view - is it rlaely that novel - I've been involved in psychiatric research for years, and clinical practice more recently, and the claim that:"Drugs for psychiatric problems are prescribed on the assumption that they mostly act against neurochemical substrates of disorders or symptoms...antidepressants are believed to reverse biochemical pathways that give rise to symptoms of depression and antipsychotics are thought to act on mechanisms that produce psychotic symptoms."does not ring true for me at all. I would say that a very small minority of researchers, and a larger minority of clinicians (psychiatrists - non-psychiatrists believe all sorts of nonsense) subscribe to naive monoamine or dopamine theories of depression or schizophrenia (respectively) and the majority believe that their drugs cause symptomatic relief only.

by: Chicho (19/12/2013 23:11)

Dear Yossi: What you have accomplished is outstanding. Thanks for the leadership! Celso

by: Celso Arango (30/09/2013 23:51)

Congratulations! This overwhelming list of activities demonstrates the difference between defining presidency a an administrative job or a creative visipon of a new concept. The activities, messages and congresses were suitabhle to attract new members and to stimulate enthsiasm, attachment and devotion in existing members and to initiate dopaminergic release by "incentive motivation" for cooperation and continuation of these rewarding acivities and events.

by: Petra Netter (30/09/2013 23:35)

This is much more than a grocery's list, it is opening a new store! Chapeau Joseph, Eric Vermetten

by: Eric Vermetten (30/09/2013 22:21)