Brain Research in Ireland – Where do we go from here?

A joint conference of the Irish Brain Council and the Neurological Alliance of Ireland, entitled ‘Brain Research in Ireland: Delivering on the Potential‘ was held in Trinity College Biomedical Sciences Building on March 10th. The aim was to bring together all stakeholders to examine what needs to be done to support, promote and strengthen brain research in this country.

You can access the Brain_Research_in_Ireland_REPORT here.

A series of key messages and recommended actions were developed by the Brain Council following this meeting.

Key Messages:

Key Message 1: Advocacy: There is a need for a strong platform in Ireland to co-ordinate efforts to promote and advocate for basic and clinical research into brain conditions


  1. The Irish Brain Council will work to promote a strong advocacy message in relation to investing in and supporting the development of brain research in Ireland
  2. The Irish Brain Council will work to create awareness and support for brain research among Government and policy makers and the general public

Key Message 2: Funding: Changes are needed to current funding available to brain research as well as steps to strengthen the capacity to attract funds to Ireland


1. The Irish Brain Council will work with current funders to highlight the need for targeted initiatives to support brain research

  1. The Irish Brain Council will support and promote awareness of initiatives aimed at increasing the capacity within Ireland to attract funding for brain research.


Key Message 3: Career Structuring to Support Brain Research: Changes to career structuring are required to support both clinical and non clinical researchers

1.The Irish Brain Council will work with relevant stakeholders to promote the development of research posts and ring fenced research time as well as supporting career development for non clinical fundamental researchers at both graduate and undergraduate levels.


Key Message 4: Networks and Infrastructure to Support Brain Research: Key supports are required to promote

1.The Irish Brain Council will work to ensure the development of an effective mechanism to translate research into practice within the health services

2.The Irish Brain Council will work to support and promote initiatives aimed at the development of an effective infrastructure to support brain research in Ireland including databases and registries as well as fundamental research and clinical trials networks.


Key Message 5: Patient Involvement and Patient Organisations

The Irish Brain Council recognises the key role of patients and patient organisations at all stages of the research process from informing research questions, through participation and translation of findings into new treatments or approaches.

1.The Irish Brain Council will work to support and promote the involvement of patients and patient organisations in brain research through developing and strengthening partnerships and supporting engagement between researchers, patients and patient organisations.

2.The Irish Brain Council will work to support and promote initiatives aimed at increasing the involvement of patients and patient organisations in the research process and in the development of new treatments and approaches to brain conditions.

Now we want your views on these and any further actions the Brain Council should engage in going forward.

Please leave your comments below by 30th June.

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European Year of the Brain 2014

Understanding the human brain and the diseases that can affect it is one of the greatest scientific and philosophical challenges we face today.


Coordinated by the European Brain Council, with the support of over 200 patient, clinical and industry organisations, Year of the Brain 2014 will highlight the needs of the millions of Europeans currently affected by brain disease, while raising awareness of the importance of everyone nurturing and protecting their most vital asset – their brain.

The Year of the Brain has 3 objectives

  1. To educate society about how to nurture and protect the brain and prevent brain disease.
  2. To improve care and treatment access for those affected by brain disease.
  3. To increase investment in brain-related R&D for the benefit of future generations.

Watch this space for local Irish Brain Council and Europe-wide Year of the Brain initiatives.

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Launch of the Irish Brain Council

The Irish Brain Council was launched on Tuesday May 28th in the National Convention Centre Dublin (CCD) at the end of a two day EU wide conference on brain research and healthcare hosted by the Irish Government as part of events for its EU presidency. The launch was funded by an advocacy grant from FENS/SfN.


The launch was opened by Micheál O’Muircheartaigh, broadcasting legend and outspoken advocate for neurologically-based research, who introduced each of the speakers with a collection of anecdotes and stories told in his own inimitable and irrepressible style.

Audrey Craven, a founding member of the Council, initiated proceedings with a brief history of the genesis of the council, from early initial meetings in 2010 to its culmination in the launch event itself. President of the newly established Council Dr Richard Roche noted that the Council brings together – for the first time – all the stakeholders including patient groups, clinicians and researchers in a collective effort to advocate for and promote brain research in Ireland.


Formally launching the Council, Mr Enda Connolly, CEO of the Health Research Board, highlighted the importance of an Irish Brain Council. “The European Brain Council has been a very effective advocate to secure funding and prioritisation of brain research in Europe, as demonstrated by the European Month of the Brain and the success of the conference we have hosted here in Dublin over the past two days. Cancer is an example of a very effective advocacy effort which has led to targeted research funding, increased public awareness and reduced stigma. It is time to bring the fight to brain disease and the establishment of the Irish Brain Council is an essential step in this regard”.

Prof Roland Pochet of the Belgian Brain Council then gave an overview of some of the activities of the IBC’s Belgian counterpart, outlining some of the work they have done within the context of the European Brain Council.

Prof David Kaplan from the Brain Canada then outlined the success of their work in securing investment in brain research and creating the public policy framework needed to support research into neurological and psychiatric diseases and their impact. He highlighted that the organisation has secured a commitment from the Canadian government to match their fundraising target of $100m for research in the neurosciences. Brain Canada has also published impact studies into the impact of neurological conditions on Canadian society as well as the case for increased investment in neuroscience research.


Professor Orla Hardiman, another founding member of the Council noted: “Populations are ageing across Europe. Brain Disorders represent what cancer was twenty years ago, a juggernaut facing our healthcare systems and a life changing diagnosis for many. “We need the kind of focus that was put into cancer research here in Ireland. The Irish Brain Council is an important step towards this”.



The Irish Brain Council will engage in an active programme of advocacy and awareness events in the run up to and during European Year of the Brain 2014, which takes place next year.

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Welcome to the website of the Irish Brain Council

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