‘The Future of Brain Health: Clinically informed and Patient-Centered Research’ took place at the European Parliament in Brussels on December 8, 2022. The event was held under the auspices of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and hosted by Member of the Parliament, Ondrej Knotek.
MEP Knotek, who welcomed us to the event, highlighted the burden of neurological disorders citing WHO data that neurological conditions affect 1 in 3 people worldwide and are the 2nd leading cause of death, he also noted the economic burden of €300million per year. Prof Vlastimil Válek, Deputy Prime Miniter, and Minister for Health of the Czech Republic emphasised that long term pain can destroy quality of life and called for support of Neuroscience. An excellent example of pioneering research was outlined by an Embedded Patient Researcher Robert Joyce, representing the voice of the patient within a clinical trial. EAN President Prof Paul Boon called for investment in research noting a lack of European neurology research agenda covering all sub-specialities. He also highlighted insufficiencies in treatment breakthroughs for neurological disorders, the neurological workforce, and awareness of neurological disorders and brain health.
With very limited funding for neurological disorders and limited scientific evidence for prevention of neurological disorders the need for treatment related research is clear. The EAN Strategic Research Agenda aims to address the top gaps identified as (1) Treament,(2) Mechanism of action, (3)Diagnosis, (4)Outcome/prediction and (5) International collaboration. The top research priorties were noted as (1) Neuroinflammation/neuroimmunology, (2) Headache/pain, (3) Stroke, (4) Alzheimer’s Disease, (5) Movement disorders, (6) Epilepsy and (7) Sleep/wake disorders.
A panel discussion was held on the key priorities for the future of brain health and how they can be addressed, with Pawel Swieboda (EBRAINS), Wolfgang H. Oertel, European Brain Council (EBC), Frances-Catherine Quevenco, Women’s Brain Project (WBP) and Orla Galvin (Executive Director, EFNA). Orla shared EFNA data that only 1 in 5 people in Europe have affordable access to therapeutic interventions that satisfactorily manage neurological conditions and that patient involvement will expedite research and innovation to ultimately expedite patient access.