ECNP Preclinical Network Data Prize

We are happy to announce the winner. Based on the evaluation, the Prize is awarded to Laura Luyten and Tom Beckers(KU Leuven, Belgium) for the following paper:

Luyten L, Beckers T (2017) A preregistered, direct replication attempt of the retrieval-extinction effect in cued fear conditioning in rats. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 144: 208–215.

Special distinction
Since it was established in 2014, one of the core goals of the ECNP Network Preclinical Data Forum was to facilitate sharing of unpublished information between scientists (and particularly industry scientists where a lot of obstacles exist). 
With this goal in mind, the Evaluation Committee has decided to award a Special Distinction to the paper written in collaboration by scientists from three pharma companies:
Latta-Mahieu M, Elmer B, Bretteville A, et al (2018) Systemic immune-checkpoint blockade with anti-PD1 antibodies does not alter cerebral amyloid-β burden in several amyloid transgenic mouse models. Glia. 2018 Mar;66(3):492-504.

Evaluation process
Evaluation Committee has received a total of 30 nominations. Of these, sixteen met all eligibility criteria and each of them was subjected to an in-depth analysis. There were four to six reviewers invited to review each panel by answer sets of pre-formulated questions using a Likert scales. The questions were about the study design (blinding, randomization, sample size estimation, exclusion criteria), data analysis and statistics, quality of resources used and technical quality of a study in general, likelihood that these results are conclusive enough to prevent similar efforts, scientific strength and importance, and, last but certainly not the least, ethical aspects.

Due to a significant number of high-quality nominations, selection process was not easy and required an established of a dedicated data analysis panel composed of three renowned experts.

The ECNP Network Preclinical Data Forum is very grateful to all the colleagues who supported this project by acting as reviewers, experts and advisors!

Prevention of possible conflict of interest
Care was taken to ensure that handling of all nominations, the review process, the paper reviews themselves, communication with the reviewers and authors, and the decision-making related to the ranking of the nominations was done only by those without potential conflict of interest. Neither the sponsors of the Prize, nor the publishers represented on the Advisory Board were involved in this ranking.

The Network is planning to share more details about the process of evaluating publications with negative (null) results. Stay tuned! 

Publication Award
The award itself will be a monetary prize of 10,000 (ten thousand) Euro, made available through a generous sponsorship support provided by the Cohen Veterans Bioscience (  It will be awarded by the ECNP’s Preclinical Data Forum, which is a mixed industry and academic group which aims to improve the replicability and reliability of scientific data, especially in drug development. The winners are invited to attend an Award ceremony that will take place on Sunday, October 7, 2018 during the ECNP Congress in Barcelona. Travel and accommodation expenses will be covered by the ECNP, an Information Partner of the Award.

About the prize
What is believed to be the world’s first prize for published “negative” scientific results, the “ECNP Preclinical Network Data Prize” has been announced by the ECNP’s Preclinical Data Forum. The €10,000 prize, aimed initially at neuroscience research, is to encourage publication of data where the results do not confirm the expected outcome or original hypothesis.

“Negative” findings – most often seen when researchers are unable to confirm or replicate previous results – are often not submitted for publication. Studies with positive results are several times more likely to be published than those which do not result in a positive result. As a consequence, these data are effectively lost to science, which may lead other scientists to waste time and effort trying to duplicate literature results. A recent paper* estimated that this costs the US economy alone, $28bn each year, similar in scale to the total $35bn National Institute of Health annual budget**.

According to Dr Thomas Steckler (ECNP Preclinical Data Forum co-Chair, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV):
“Science is historically self-correcting. This process is most effective when both positive and negative results are published. However, negative results are less likely to get published because they are often believed to generate less “value” for an individual scientist, organization or journal. Indeed, compared with the positive data, negative data may appear less exciting, are less likely to open new avenues of research and therefore new funding opportunities. Unpublished data is effectively a waste of valuable real and human capital, particularly in the face of the reproducibility challenge currently discussed in various fields of science: reproducibility in neuroscience has come under particular focus in recent years. It’s startling to realize that over 50% of published biomedical data cannot be reproduced*”.

Dr Anton Bespalov (ECNP Preclinical Data Forum Co-Chair, PAASP), added
There are hundreds of drug trials which have failed in the last few years. Analysis of the factors that led to these failures is very often compromised by the biased representation of the early, preclinical work. The prize aims to emphasize to scientists and academic publishers that there is real value in publishing all the results, not just the headline-grabbing positive results”.

Read press release

Advisory Board

More information
Please contact Dr Anton Bespalov (PAASP) via e-mail.

About ECNP 
The European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) is the parent organization hosting the Preclinical Data Forum Network. The ECNP is an independent scientific association dedicated to the science and treatment of disorders of the brain. It is the largest non-institutional supporter of applied and translational neuroscience research and education in Europe. Read more

About Cohen Veterans Bioscience
Cohen Veterans Bioscience is a national, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) research organization dedicated to fast-tracking the development of diagnostic tests and personalized therapeutics for the millions of veterans and civilians who suffer the devastating effects of trauma-related and other brain disorders. To support & learn more about our research efforts, visit

*Kaiser, Science June 9th 2015. See ** Science, July 17th, 2017