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    Global Advocacy Initiative: Seed Grants

    Pictured above: 2015-16 Global Advocacy Seed Grant 2-day workshop organized by The Malaysian Society of Neurosciences.

    • Applications now closed for 2018 Global Advocacy Seed Grants • 

    Global Advocacy Seed Grants have been awarded since 2015 by the Global Advocacy Committee to encourage advocacy activities in Africa, Asia/Pacific and Latin America. In 2017, European countries challenged by a lack of resources and support will also be eligible to apply. Up to €5,000 is awarded to each successful applicant. Supported events and activities address the specific needs of neuroscience advocacy in the country where they are held. They include public lectures, brain awareness fairs, conferences, educational symposia for policymakers, educators and the public and videos or multimedia products to increase awareness. To explore more ideas, please refer to the section on Global Advocacy Resources and our 2016 Global Advocacy Review (pdf - 1.2MB).

    The next application call will be in April 2017 so please check back on our website and social media outlets for updated details. IBRO thanks its Global Advocacy Seed Grant funding partners - Society for Neuroscience (SfN), Federation for European Neuroscience Societies (FENS), International Society for Neurochemistry (ISN) and the Japan Neuroscience Society (JNS) for their support. Without such strong partnerships, global brain advocacy would not be possible.

    |2016-17 | 2015-16 


    [AfricaAsia PacificLatin America, Pan-Europe]

    AFRICA 2018

    Egypt: Mohamed Salama
    Egyptian Network for Neurodegenerative Disorders (ENND)

    Abstract of proposal: 

    ‘Neuroethics’ is short hand for the ethical, legal and social implications of neuroscience. The field emerged in the early 2000s, at a time when neuroscience was consolidating its recent success in the study of human cognition and beginning to make progress understanding social and emotional processes and individual differences. These scientific advances opened the door to an unprecedented ability to explain, predict and even control human behaviour, raising a host of ethical, legal and social issues. Organized by our research team, scientists from Africa, the Diaspora and the Western Hemisphere will gather in Cairo, Egypt, for the first neuroethics Global Advocacy Workshop for Neuroscience. Parallel activities will include a scientific writing workshop as well as a course on teacher training for young African scientists and hands-on sessions on selected animal models of brain disorders. The primary objective of the proposed workshop is to support individuals with ethics expertise, to develop the capabilities to conduct original empirical or conceptual research on critical ethical issues in neuroscience research in Africa. The workshop will provide:

    • strong foundation in research design, methods, and analytic techniques appropriate for proposed neuroscience research areas
    • enhancement of the neuroscientists’ ability to conceptualize, analyze and solve bioethics research problems with increasing independence
    • experience conducting bioethics research using state-of-the-art methods as well as presenting and publishing their research findings
    • opportunity to interact with members of the international bioethics academic community at appropriate conferences and workshops
    • enhancement of the researchers’ understanding of the bioethics theory and ethical practice related to global health research
    • A framework and consensus about the ethical issues from a religious as well as cultural aspects (e.g. brain bank, stem cell therapy)

    Ethiopia: Bereket Duko Adema
    Hawassa University

    Abstract of proposal: 

    Advocacy is considered to be one of the eleven areas for action in any mental health policy because of the benefits that it produces for people with mental disorders and their families. The advocacy movement has substantially influenced neurosciences-related policy and legislation in many different countries. Nevertheless, in Ethiopia, little is known about mental health in general and the field of neuroscience in particular. There is actually no neuroscience expert in the country. Therefore, with the support of our global advocacy seed grant, we plan to do the following: Raise awareness and disseminate information through public lectures by known and respected scholars; provide training during conferences through the use of videos and other multimedia platforms; and conduct a panel discussion between different neuroscience experts for a scientific and non-scientific audience. Our primary objective will be to improve awareness and attitudes within academic, public and policymaking communities regarding research in the field of neuroscience.

    Methodology and strategy:

    1. Raising awareness and information dissemination through public lectures by known and respected scholars
    2. Training during conferences through the use of videos and other multimedia platforms
    3. Panel discussion by different experts in the field of neuroscience

    Uganda: Angelina Kakooza-Mwesige
    Epilepsy Society

    Abstract of proposal: 

    The school years symbolize a significant period of a child’s social, psychological and physical development, by considerably impacting on the child’s quality of life and future adult responsibilities. Children with epilepsy compared to those without seizures or those with other chronic disorders, such as asthma, are at higher risk of academic underachievement, attention problems, learning and memory difficulties, mental health problems, social isolation and poor self-esteem. These complications may be a result of the seizures on the brain or due to the antiepileptic medication they are receiving.  A study conducted in Uganda on children diagnosed with epilepsy noted that the mean school grades of children with epilepsy were found to be lower than those of children without epilepsy in all subjects. Unfortunately, the teacher’s knowledge and attitudes about epilepsy was poor. The majority of the teachers (75.8%) thought that children with epilepsy generally had below average intelligence - 35.3% thought that epilepsy was contagious while 58.8% were afraid of having a child with epilepsy in their class. These negative attitudes and insufficient knowledge related to epilepsy point to the prevailing myths and cultural beliefs that still exist in Uganda communities, as well as the lack of focused education and training programs about epilepsy for school teachers training. Therefore, our overall project aim is to enhance the knowledge and skills about epilepsy among school teachers in the Kampala district. Specifically, the teachers will be provided with knowledge and skills on:

    • The general overview of causes of epilepsy and particular risks in our environment.
    • Epilepsy recognition in children so as to able to provide preliminary counselling to affected school children.
    • The basics about the first aid measures to be taken in the event of an epileptic seizure among their pupils.
    • Information on the various ways that epilepsy can impact on a school child's lifestyle.

    One-day workshops will be convened at a suitable centrally located school within the division during school holidays. The target audience is teachers from 100 randomly selected government and private primary and secondary schools in each of the five divisions of the Kampala district. A total of 5 individual workshops (one per division, with 100 participants each) will be held, making an overall total of 500 teachers. During the awareness-raising workshop, various myths associated with epilepsy, its signs and symptoms, its effects on the children and first aid management will be explained to teachers with the help of interactive presentations, a locally made video, role plays, quizzes, demonstrations on a dummy, etc., to simulate real-life situations. A simple, self-instructional brochure, prepared with the help of available simple texts on epilepsy, its misconceptions and first aid treatment will also be provided to teachers during the workshop. This brochure will be in English and Luganda, the common local language spoken in the area. Pre- and post-intervention evaluations of the level of knowledge and practices of the teachers of all the groups will also be conducted.



    Bangladesh: Amin Shakhawat
    Bangladeshi Association for Neuroscience

    Abstract of proposal:

    Our aim is to raise awareness about neuroscience research among students in Bangladesh and gather as many Bangladeshi neuroscientists as possible who are interested in pursuing neuroscience research in Bangladesh. Members who live abroad will help, guide and collaborate with faculties located in the country to establish neuroscience research groups/programs in their respective universities. The global advocacy seed grant will help support these efforts in promoting neuroscience research at local and national levels. Our initial goal is to bring all the neuroscientists (international and national) under one official platform. This platform will allow Bangladeshi neuroscientists to begin a dialogue on a common strategy to promote neuroscience research in Bangladesh. We will organize official quarterly meetings by inviting neuroscientists who are living in Bangladesh or outside (through video conferences), discuss the progress of our mission and develop effective strategies to promote neuroscience research in the country. A neuroscience committee will be set up to work exclusively on reaching our goals and maintaining liaisons with government officials, university heads and policymakers to promote neuroscience.

    Twice a year, our committee will visit schools and give free T-shirts with a brain logo on it, show brain specimens of different animals to kids and discuss exciting neuroscience research with them. We will also organize brain bee competitions and will give prizes to the top three students in each school. At the university level, we will arrange talks by local neuroscientists to give presentations to students and faculty from different backgrounds. These journal club-like presentations will discuss recent neuroscience discoveries with the audience to excite them in the field. Presenters will encourage students to pursue careers in neuroscience. Finally, our committee will organize a conference by inviting speakers from around the world and invite government officials and local political leaders to make them aware about the benefits of neuroscience research and to speak in support of the field at the highest levels of government.

    Nepal: Sandip Shah
    B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences

    Abstract of proposal:

    Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders in Nepal, with a prevalence of 7.5 in 1000 people. Despite global advances in modern medicine, epilepsy continues to be surrounded by myths and misconceptions. Fear, misunderstanding and the resulting social stigma and discrimination surrounding epilepsy often force people with this disorder "into the shadows." These myths and misconceptions can only be dispelled by proper education of patients, families, communities and policymakers. We will use our global advocacy seed grant to support a program to be held in the Dharan Municipality of Nepal. Target populations will be students of secondary level schools, educators, government officers, patients diagnosed with epilepsy and their families, medical graduates, MBBS and resident doctors. The goals and objectives will be to increase knowledge regarding the human brain and its functions, mass awareness about the importance of the brain and brain research among ordinary citizens, students and policymakers, awareness regarding the myths of epilepsy in Nepal and awareness of early diagnosis and referral to treatment centers. Also, a documentary, “Ek Naya Din (A New Day),” will be screened as part of the advocacy program. It is a 1-hour feature film that has tried to bust the myths and misconceptions surrounding epilepsy through the story of an educated family caught between superstitious beliefs and modern values. 

    United Arab Emirates: Aida Mohammedeid
    Arabic Neuroscience Awareness

    Abstract of proposal:

    The public understanding of neuroscience still needs huge improvement in Arabic society all around the world. Unfortunately, there are no adequate and reliable references for Arabic societies. We are aiming to prepare a webpage targeted to Arabic societies in the Arabic language based on international neuroscience resources and especially tailored to Arabic culture. We expect this initiative will help to substantially improve the levels of awareness in Arabic societies, providing the following benefits:

    • Improve Arabic society knowledge regarding risk factors so the public can take protective measures as much as possible and change their lifestyles whenever possible
    • Remove myths from society so people will approach issues more realistically with positive attitudes
    • Provide information about facts and figures to the Arabic public and encourage Arabic societies to donate/transfer more resources and funds for research activities
    • Provide all information needed regarding care and treatment options so patients and caregivers will have more clarity to make informed decisions
    • Establish a communication platform among stakeholders (patients, carers, practitioners, researchers) to communicate, share experiences and support each other

    The Global Advocacy Seed Grant will help to set up and promote a reliable and easy-to-access resource for Arabic speakers regarding neurological disorders and up-to-date research literature in the field of neuroscience.



    Brazil: Maria Lucia De Bustamante Simas
    Laboratório de Percepção Visual

    Abstract of proposal:

    In Brazil, there are more than 50 groups working on schizophrenia according to Plataforma Lattes, a federal national database of researchers and research groups in the country. However, the general population, patients and their families do not have access to the research and resources that have been developed in the country regarding schizophrenia. Our purpose is to bring together all the labs in the country that work on this theme in order to achieve common goals for the personal and social benefit of those who suffer from this disorder. We are planning a national forum on schizophrenia with key national speakers on the theme and international research partners. Among the activities scheduled are symposia, round tables, courses, conferences, thematic communications involving all theoretical and empirical aspects of research on the subject, with emphasis on prevention and quality of life. An invitation letter we will be sent to senior researchers inviting them to submit proposals (talks, conferences, courses) through our website, as well as to associations and support groups of schizophrenia patients and their families. The project will have a webpage and fanpage to announce our forum as well as to provide well informed material on the theme to the public.

    Colombia: Liliana Francis Turner
    Unversidad del Tolima

    Physical and mental health should be pillars of public policies aimed at ensuring a state of social well-being and increased life expectancy. Colombia is not a country foreign to population aging. In this context, basic research aimed at neurodegenerative diseases, which appear mostly in later life, need to be better known and disseminated in the political and administrative environment that is responsible for the decisions inherent in the budgets for such research. On the other hand, Colombia is a country with large numbers of displaced persons as a result of the prolonged armed conflict that has recently moved towards peace. Multiple sequelae, essentially psychological, must be addressed by public policies and by the educational system of our country. Therefore, neuroscience research focusing on the psychological impact of the war, especially concerning vulnerable populations (women, children and youth), are of special interest at this time. We will use our global advocacy seed grant to address these issues within the framework of the "Brain Week at the University of Tolima 2018." The fundamental objectives will be:

    • increase public and political support for basic neuroscience research aimed at the etiopathogenic mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases and pharmacodynamic treatments based on phytomedicine

    • improve public awareness of the need to address the psychological consequences of armed conflict by promoting activities that, from neuroscience, emphasize the importance of non-violence as well as the negative impact of war on the behaviour of the most vulnerable populations (women, children and youth).

    Cuba: Vivian Reigosa-Crespo
    Cuban Neurosciences Center (CNEURO)

    A scientific understanding of learning can aid education in a number of ways: Authentic messages about how the brain learns can help dissipate the growing number of “neuromyths” amongst educators; new approaches to learning, where educators and scientists are collaboratively developing neurocognitive interventions for typical and atypical learners in respect of improving literacy, numeracy, reasoning and many other skills; and a basic understanding about how the brain learns in teacher training and development promises to empower teachers to approach their own practice more scientifically. We therefore will use our global advocacy seed grant to organize a 1-day educational neuroscience advocacy workshop in Havana to highlight these and other benefits. This initiative will help to increase awareness of the importance of scientific understanding of learning among teachers, policymakers, authoritative leaders and philanthropists. CNEURO has much experience in bridging neuroscience findings and educational practices. Our research teams have developed tools suitable for implementing school-based programs focused on neurocognitive development and we work closely with the Cuban Ministry of Education to facilitate the introduction of research findings into educational practices.


    PAN-EUROPE 2018

    Greece: Fotini Stylianopoulou
    Hellenic Society for Neuroscience

    Greece is still in the midst of a chronic financial crisis profoundly affecting the funding of science in general. This situation poses serious threats to the future of neuroscience research in Greece. Proactive measures have to be taken in order to persuade decision-making politicians and public servants of the importance of neuroscience research for society and thus secure future budgetary support for brain-related research. Taking advantage of a former FENS advocacy funding initiative in 2011, the Hellenic Society for Neuroscience organized advocacy activities which established a foundation for interaction with political players and societal stakeholders. The aim of this current global advocacy seed grant project will be to continue the advocacy campaign at the national level, with a more focused approach based on the experience acquired by our former activities. This will include the organization of a meeting in Athens with government officials from relevant ministries and funding bodies, as well as Parliament and European Parliament members. In these meetings, the focus will be in communicating the extent of the burden of brain diseases, both financial and social. Also, the importance of basic neuroscience research in understanding brain function and dysfunction and the development of effective, preventive, therapeutic and rehabilitation approaches for brain-related diseases will be stressed.

    Ireland: Barry Boland
    University College Dublin

    Over the past 30 years, Irish neuroscientists have made significant contributions to neuroscience research and brain awareness, both at university and secondary school levels. As a nation, we have a strong community of neuroscience researchers who regularly engage with the public to inform them of their progress and to raise awareness of both the financial and emotional cost that brain disorders have on society. However, following the recent economic crisis in 2008, funding for neuroscience in Ireland has been badly affected, leading to an exodus of most postgraduate researchers into alternative careers, as well as some principal investigators. Unlike other countries, which set aside specific funding for neuroscience research and public engagement, the Irish government does not allocate sufficient funding for neuroscience research, and we would like to use the 2018 Brain Awareness Week to address this. We aim to engage with members of the public to raise awareness of the need to do more to understand neurological disorders, which can affect people throughout the age-spectrum of life, from birth to old age. By hosting a national advocacy event, we will engage with people who may otherwise not come in contact with academic researchers who are trying to work towards a common goal of improving mental health in society. The three objectives will be: To raise awareness of the prevalence of neurological and psychiatric conditions that need basic research funding to support a global initiative to develop disease-modifying treatments; encourage members of the public to attend a one-day public meeting/symposium on neurological disorders at a large public venue in Cork City; and invite government representatives, members of international philanthropic and charity organisations and the national media to attend a one-day symposium in Cork that will specifically address the need for more neuroscience funding in Ireland.  

    Russia: Elena Rybnikova
    Pavlov Institute of Physiology, Russian Academy of Sciences

    The primary goal of our global advocacy seed grant project is to disseminate existing resources and develop new ones dedicated to advocacy about the first Nobel laureate (1904), Ivan Pavlov. We aim to enhance public awareness about the not so widely known fact that Ivan Pavlov was the founder of behavioural genetics. Pavlov contributed to the emergence of behavioural genetics, calling it “experimental genetics of higher nervous activity” (HNA). For these purposes, Pavlov created in 1926 a biological station in the outskirts of St. Petersburg (Leningrad) in Ingermanland village Koltushi in order to breed dog strains with different types of HNA. The “Old Laboratory” built in Koltushi in 1930 still houses Pavlov's functioning soundproof chamber for conditioning. Authentically Pavlovian, this setup is also still equipped with a large set of different bells, zooms and tones, dog feeding racks and a glass capillary mounted on a ruler for measuring dog’s salivation. A modern media-movie product, a reel with two-dimensional animation with pictorial reviews and newsreels of Pavlov’s time in Koltushi, will be created by Russian stage director and museum designer Eugene Strelkov (Nizhny Novgorod). It will be both in Russian and English to increase awareness about Pavlov and his work worldwide. Alongside with the proposed film, an interactive map of Pavlovian Koltushi called “The Capital of Conditioning” will be created.


    [AfricaAsia PacificLatin America

    AFRICA 2016-17

    Nigeria: Theresa Ekanem
    Neuroscience Society of Nigeria, Uyo

    Abstract of proposal:

    The Neuroscience Society of Nigeria is the umbrella body of neuroscientists in the country and it meets annually to discuss relevant regional priorities in neuroscience and to share basic and clinical research results. Unfortunately, neuroscience is still misunderstood nationwide. There is a lack of understanding about the relevance of neuroscientists in health care delivery, funding constraints, lack of trained personnel, weak collaboration between clinicians and basic researchers and no functioning laboratories with appropriate facilities for research.

    The Global Advocacy Seed Grant will allow NSN to convene a workshop that will involve politicians, policymakers, university heads, healthcare professionals, students, researchers and the general public. It will provide the opportunity for the different stakeholder groups to understand the importance of neuroscience research in helping to alleviate the burden of neurological conditions such as depression, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. The primary objective of the workshop will be to build a link to policymakers that conveys the need to fund neuroscience research on major neurological diseases currently affecting Nigeria and other African countries.

    Nigeria: James Olopade
    The Neuroscience Group, University of Ibadan, Ibadan

    Abstract of proposal:

    Neuroscience is not a priority in Nigeria nor throughout Africa. There is a lack of willingness from senior colleagues to start neuroscience degree programs, relatively little interest in neuroscience research among postgraduate students and low funding opportunities for neuroscience research. The Neuroscience Group at the University of Ibadan is acutely aware of these challenges, especially since there is no official neuroscience program.

    With the Global Advocacy Seed Grant, the Neuroscience Group will run a series of IBRO Advocacy Lectures targeted at two audiences, university students and lecturers and policymakers, in order to highlight the importance of neuroscience in Nigeria and greater Africa and increase support for research. The first lecture will be given by Professor Marina Bentivoglio who will speak about “Using Neuroscience Research to Solve the Neurological Challenges of Our Time: The Role of Africa and African Based Research.” University undergraduates and postgraduates in the biological sciences, chemistry and physics will be invited. The second lecture will be given by Professor Richard Brown on “Developing Neuroscience Postgraduate Program in Ibadan: the Expected Gains” for neuroscience lecturers and professors, policymakers and university administrators.

    Somaliland: Temesgen Sidamo Summoro
    Edna Adan University Hospital, Hargeisa

    Abstract of proposal:

    Somaliland in northern Somalia has one of the highest prevalence of mental illness worldwide. Forty percent of people are estimated to be living with severe mental health disorders, probably as a result of two decades of civil war, social stigma, substance abuse and a huge shortage of trained professionals.

    With the Global Advocacy Seed Grant, the Edna Adan University Hospital will organize a conference with the aim of advocating for brain awareness throughout the country. The target audience will include educators, health professionals from around the country and government officials from the Ministry of Education and Health. A call for participation and abstract submission will be opened in selected areas of brain function and fitness as well as brain diseases and disorders, preferably the neuroscience of psychoactive substance use and dependence, hypoxic brain injury and hydrocephalus. Other activities will include panel discussions, Q&A sessions and an exhibition of movies related to brain function, diseases and disorders.

    South Africa: Janine Roos 
    Mental Health Information Centre of Southern Africa, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town

    Abstract of proposal:

    Modern neuro-imaging research has led to tremendous advances in understanding the human brain and how it is affected by disease processes in recent years. However, expertise is still lacking in this field in Southern Africa. This makes advocacy and further training of neuro-imaging researchers in the regional context extremely important for the continuation of world-class research. The Mental Health Information Centre of Southern Africa (MHIC) at Stellenbosch University (SU) promotes mental health in Southern Africa by being actively involved in psycho-educating members of the public, referring individuals for treatment, hosting an online referral database, conducting and publishing research in psychiatry and related fields and translating such scientific information to the lay public.

    The IBRO Global Advocacy Seed Grant will allow MHIC to partner with Dr. Stefan Du Plessis, researcher/clinician at the SU Department of Psychiatry, to organize workshops tailored for local school learners, undergraduate and postgraduate students during Brain Awareness Week 2017 to stimulate interest in neuroscience, more specifically the use of structural and functional MRI in brain research, with specific emphasis on findings from his work in HIV associated neurocognitive disorders. It will also help build partnerships with policymakers in Southern Africa by illustrating the effectiveness of such educational outreach activities.

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    ASIA PACIFIC 2016-17

    Japan: Yasushi Miyashita
    University of Tokyo, Tokyo

    Abstract of proposal:

    Japan has made great progress in brain research but it has suffered from wavering public support and government attention in the recent past. This experience has taught the Japanese neuroscience community that constant advocacy is necessary to maintain interest, funding and inclusion in national health and research policy discussions. The highly successful Non-Profit Organization, the Brain Science Promotion Conference, has proven it is an effective annual symposium that serves as a reliable channel for brain advocacy with the general public and policymaking communities. It is building a strong following and the University of Tokyo wishes to encourage that trend.

    It will contribute to the event in 2017 with the IBRO Global Advocacy Seed Grant. Attendance is expected to be around 800 participants and the focus will be on the ageing brain. With an ageing population, it is an important topic that would have wide application and relevance to Japanese society. It will also help to bring neuroscientists, government representatives, industry leaders and the public together to discuss future research and strategies for mental health treatment and care in Japan.

    Nepal: Sunil Dhungel
    Neuroscience Society of Nepal, Patan

    Abstract of proposal:

    In Nepal, less than 1% of the total government health budget is allocated to mental health, with one psychiatrist per one million people. Poor health facilities and a lack of doctors create a severe problem in treating adolescent mass hysteria, chhopne rog in Nepalese. It is still believed to be caused by evil spirits or angry deities. Villagers depend on local shamans for treatment. Despite neuroscience research that shows this is due to a psychological disorder characterized by the conversion of psychological stress into physical symptom or a change in self-awareness, the incidence of mass hysteria is increasing in government schools in rural Nepal. The root causes have not yet been identified.

    The IBRO Global Advocacy Seed Grant would support an educational intervention, Neuroeducation to psychological disorders – mass hysteria in rural government school in Nepal. It will involve a week-long neuroeducation program that will discuss psychological disorders and engage government officials, policymakers, expert psychiatrists, neuroscientists and musicians capable of delivering knowledge in different ways. In the long term, we hope to incorporate such activities into the public school curriculum.

    Pakistan: Sadaf Ahmed
    Advance Educational Institute & Research Centre (AEIRC), University of Karachi, Karachi

    Abstract of proposal:

    There are many constraints to neuroscience progress in Pakistan as it is still a developing country. Less than 0.4% GDP is spent on research and the Ministry of Science is unable to provide significant support for any neuroscience research at the national level. Also, there is no formal channel to bridge the gaps that lie between knowledge and practice, obstructing the ability to reduce the burden of progressive neurodegenerative disorders and maladaptive mental health issues.

    In order to highlight the dire need to support brain research in Pakistan, the Advance Educational Institute & Research Centre (AEIRC) in collaboration with the Pakistan Society of Applied and Basic Neuroscience will organize a Festival of Neuroscience at the University of Karachi in July 2017. The Global Advocacy Seed Grant will help support this event which will bring together researchers, clinicians and others to celebrate the latest research and progress in the field of neuroscience, focusing particular attention on emerging mental health issues in Pakistan. The event aims to increase public awareness, educate people about the importance of neuroscience and develop a scientific community network that can work to promote and advocate for brain research at the national level.

    Sri Lanka: Ranil De Silva
    Neuroscience Society of Sri Lanka, Colombo

    Abstract of proposal:

    Sri Lanka ranks as the fastest ageing population in South Asia according to World Health Statistics (2013), leading to a dramatic increase in non-communicable diseases including neurodegenerative disorders. The country also ranks fourth among 172 countries in suicides and suffers from alcoholism, inherited neurological diseases due to a high rate of consanguineous marriages, impacts of the 30-year civil war and the 2004 tsunami. The rural population comprises 80% of the total population with limited access to health care and a lack of public awareness regarding neurological diseases. It is estimated that around 500,000 adults with diabetes mellitus go undiagnosed in Sri Lanka and is one of the major risk factors for neurological disorders such as stroke and Alzheimer’s.

    The Neuroscience Society of Sri Lanka will use the IBRO Global Advocacy Seed Grant to address these issues and increase advocacy efforts through activities that support dialogue and interaction between policymakers, scientists, legislators, industry leaders, clinicians, patients and the public. They include establishing state sector centers for neuroscience, professional training opportunities, developing international collaborations and funding sources and conducting media awareness campaigns.

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    LATIN AMERICA 2016-17

    Argentina: Arturo Romano
    Sociedad Argentina de Investigación en Neurociencias (SAN), Buenos Aires

    Abstract of proposal:

    Neuroscience is among scientific disciplines that are particularly prone to be reported inaccurately. It is therefore essential that activities are organized involving neuroscientists, policymakers, journalists and the general public in order to improve communication and understanding. The Sociedad Argentina de Investigación en Neurociencias (SAN) has already organized a broad range of advocacy events.

    Based on this experience, the society has identified three main aspects that can benefit from the Global Advocacy Seed Grant in Argentina: Opportunities for dialogue between journalists and neuroscientists, public lectures and Brain Awareness Week (BAW) activities. SAN will use the IBRO Global Advocacy Seed Grant in 2017 to support a one-day workshop on communicating neuroscience for journalists during BAW 2017 and organize a free half-day conference with a series of lectures given by presitigious neuroscientists at the Cultural Science Center in Buenos Aires on October 15 as a FALAN satellite event. Dr. Carlos Belmonte, Dr. Mariano Sigman and Dr. Diego Golombek are scheduled to speak.

    Brazil: Newton Canteras
    Sociedade Brasileira de Neurociências e Comportamento (SBNeC), São Paulo

    Abstract of proposal:

    Brazilian neuroscience has improved over the past decades and gained international recognition. However, there is a large gap between scientific research activity and the general public within Brazil. The Sociedade Brasileira de Neurociências e Comportamento (SBNeC) believes that disclosure of research in neuroscience developed in Brazilian institutions is an important way to inform both national and international communities and show results of incoming investment. However, with increasing access to information and communication especially through electronic means, there are both opportunities and challenges regarding the dissemination of scientific information.

    To address these issues, SBNeC will use the Global Advocacy Seed Grant to organize a symposium or workshop to create professional mechanisms for SBNeC to disseminate neuroscience subjects tailored for Brazilians. It will take place during the 2017 SBNeC Brain Awareness Week, originally initiated by the Dana Foundation, and include the SBNeC Board of Directors, selected researchers already involved in scientific journalism and professional scientific journalists from several Brazilian institutions.

    Colombia: George Barreto
    Colegio Colombiano de Neurociencias (COLNE), Bogotá

    Abstract of proposal:

    Despite some improvements in neuroscience research in Colombia over the last few years, there is still a need to promote public awareness, education training programs and networking activities to consolidate support for brain research at the policy level and in the public domain. There is minimal communication between neuroscientists and policymakers/public strategists, a significant divide between neuroscientists and neurologists and no motivation or support for students and researchers to advocate for neuroscience.

    As a result, the Colegio Colombiano de Neurociencias (COLNE) wishes to use the Global Advocacy Seed Grant to address these challenges through student support (national award, travel grants and the creation of a Neurosciences Student Association); enhanced communications (YouTube Channel, improvement of COLNE website); and public awareness activities in schools and universities, a scientific symposium for neuroscientists and neurologists and Brain Awareness Week activities.

    México: Luis Beltran-Parrazal
    Fundación Beltran-Morgado para el avance y difusión de la neurociencia en Veracruz, Veracruz

    Abstract of proposal:

    Traditionally, Veracruz is a state in Mexico not associated with scientific development. There is a lack of infrastructure, resources and government interest. However, active public participation in neuroscience education events makes it clear that there is community interest in the brain. The Fundación Beltran-Morgado para el avance y diffusion de la neurociencia en Veracruz, a group of professors and graduate students committed to neuroscience advocacy in the state, believes it can help grow this public interest and attract more legislative support through advocacy and increasing public understanding of the neurological disease spinocerebellar ataxias type 7 (SCA-7). This is a rare disorder with a global prevalence of <1/100,000. In Veracruz, SCA-7 occurs with a prevalence of 10.63/100,000, most likely due to hereditary transfer.

    Supported by the IBRO Global Advocacy Seed Grant, activities will educate the public and policymakers about this. They will include a free and public lecture, The Brain and Me, about SCA-7; lectures and public activities during the 2017 Brain Awareness Week organized by the Brain Research Center (Universidad Veracruzana) and the Southeastern Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN); a series of interdisciplinary scientific conferences; and an educational symposium for legislators to sensitize the government about public health problems related to neurodegenerative diseases.

    Perú: Luis Angel Aguilar Mendoza
    Sociedad para la Neurociencia del Perú (SONEP), Lima

    Abstract of proposal:

    Peru is characterized by a deficiency of public knowledge about the brain because of poor dissemination of scientific knowledge in general. Media and businesses exacerbate this problem by popularizing pseudoscientific information, especially related to the brain, under such terms as neuromarketing, neurocoaching and neuroeducation. In order to address this pervasive misinformation about the brain, the Society for Neuroscience of Peru (SONEP) will use the Global Advocacy Seed Grant to organize a series of neuroscience conferences in Lima focused on the structure, operation and care of the nervous system.

    The audience will include professionals, students, patients, caregivers, doctors, educators and the public interested in learning about the brain. Topics will cover the physiology of sleep, the importance of nutrition in brain development, addiction, stages of neurodevelopment in humans, the importance of brain education in society and neurodegenerative diseases, especially Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. High public participation and media coverage will also be sought to fully promote and increase public awareness of brain research and its importance to Peruvian society.

    Puerto Rico: Amaya Miquelajauregui
    Institute of Neurobiology, University of Puerto Rico, Old San Juan

    Abstract of proposal:

    Autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders usually go undetected in minority populations mainly because of a lack of awareness of normal development and limited access to health services and care. The prevalence of autism in the general population of Puerto Rico is comparable to the worldwide diagnosis rate (1:68). However, services and information available to the public are scarce, particularly for families with infants at higher risk of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Affected families have created networks and associations such as the Alianza de Autismo de Puerto Rico, which have been fundamental in directing policy and promoting education.

    The Institute of Neurobiology at the University of Puerto Rico proposes to use the Global Advocacy Seed Grant to trigger a continuous, bi-directional interaction between the general public, clinicians and researchers who are involved in autism and other disorders. Educational symposia in English and Spanish will provide a forum to share knowledge and experience. Multimedia bilingual recordings will make the discussions and Q&A sessions accessible to the public and policymakers once uploaded. It will promote a culture of interaction and knowledge in the management and detection of autism-spectrum disorders and hopefully lead to improved understanding, care and policies.

    *The Latin American region awarded more grants but lower amounts for each recipient.

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    [AfricaAsia PacificLatin America

    AFRICA 2015-16

     Nigeria: Owolabi Joshua
     Babcock University, BrainHealth BrainPower, Ilishan-Remo

    Abstract of proposal: 

    Mental health has never been a national priority concern in Nigeria and almost no information about mental health challenges is available to the public. Therefore, widespread ignorance prevails concerning neuroscience research and its benefits. The BrainHealth BrainPower group at Babcock University has recently begun to address this problem by recognizing that awareness campaigns and activities are necessary, especially through collaborations with other stakeholders in the government, private sector, academia and public. The group also intends to engage the media to help disseminate information and start building a foundation of knowledge and awareness that can facilitate discussions between different interests, eventually leading to increased understanding and support, research funding and better policies.

    The IBRO Global Advocacy Seed Grant would help BrainHealth BrainPower initiate a nationwide campaign to increase awareness about neuroscience through educational programmes that will be broadcast and disseminated through television, radio, newspapers and public lectures. The group will also organize a StakeHolders Forum event hosted at Babcock University, engaging as many members of the academic community as well.

      South Africa: Jacqueline Bracher
      The University of Cape Town, Cape Town

    Abstract of proposal:

    The University of Cape Town (UCT) and the Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH) in South Africa have already joined forces to create the UCT/GSH Neurosciences Initiative that will eventually establish an institute of clinical care, research and teaching. At the foundation of this initiative is the commitment to advocacy and public engagement. This has been viewed as essential so that important learning and research findings can be disseminated and understanding and support of neuroscience can be achieved across the continent. In order to consolidate dispersed efforts, reduce costs and allow access to and interaction with the greatest number of people, UCT and GSH will create an online platform that will provide a flexible advocacy forum promoting awareness, treatment, education, training, collaboration and networking.

    The IBRO Global Advocacy Seed Grant would help the UCT/GSH Neurosciences Initiative create and develop a functional and robust online platform by providing initial investment for designing and building a fully responsive and accessible website that is built in consideration of regional technical needs and challenges.

     Egypt: Tamer Emara
     Ain Shams University, Cairo

    Abstract of proposal:

    Ain Shams University has been an important national source of scientific research and education in Egypt since it was founded in 1950. In the field of neuroscience advocacy, the university has been working under challenging circumstances throughout its existence. A lack of trained professionals and programmes, brain drain, funding constraints, infrastructure issues and political instability have all influenced the effectiveness of advocacy efforts. However, innovative solutions have been found and continue to be implemented. Currently, the university has developed and employed online technology in order to limit costs and improve neuroscience education to a broader Africa and Middle East audience. Through teleconferences and telemed education platforms, they are bringing together policymakers, university heads, industry leaders, clinicians and researchers for informed discussions within a collaborative learning environment.

    The IBRO Global Advocacy Seed Grant would enhance these efforts by co-sponsoring a teleneurology conference that will start a telemedicine platform called Treat and Teach for neurology education and practice in the Middle East and Africa.

    Links Neurology Online article

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    ASIA PACIFIC 2015-16

     India: Prahlad K Seth
    The Indian Academy of Neurosciences, Lucknow

    Abstract of proposal:

    The Indian Academy of Neurosciences (IAN) has several chapters across India and close relationships with other national neuroscience organizations that together create a potentially powerful network of advocates. Unfortunately, inadequate funding continues to obstruct advocacy and the advancement of brain research in the country. India only spends 0.88% of its GDP on R&D and there is no increase in year-to-year funding by the government. In fact, there are often severe budget cuts. The Academy has identified poor awareness about brain research and its social significance as one of the main causes of this lack of support. As a result, it is trying to increase advocacy efforts through a multi-pronged approach that will support dialogue and interaction between scientists, legislators, industry leaders, clinicians, patients and the public.

    The IBRO Global Advocacy Seed Grant would help IAN achieve this objective by supporting the following activities: Enhancing general awareness through videos and public lectures in local languages and school activities; sensitizing patient support groups by collaborative outreach and symposiums; strategic meetings with parliamentary committee members; and special symposia aimed at increasing awareness and sensitivity in industry. 

     Japan: Tadaharu Tsumoto
    The Japan Neuroscience Society, Wako

    Abstract of proposal:

    In Japan, serious efforts in neuroscience advocacy began in the 1990s when the country promoted the Decade of the Brain campaign. This surge of interest and attention provided increased awareness and support for national research projects and international collaboration. Unfortunately, the enthusiasm did not last long and soon faded. Recently, however, new interest has been generated with current media coverage of advances in brain research. The Brain Science Promotion Conference and the Japan Neuroscience Society have been encouraged by this and have joined forces to take advantage of the renewed interest. They are currently planning outreach events that bring together diverse stakeholder groups including the public, journalists, educators, science communicators and policymakers.

    The IBRO Global Advocacy Seed Grant would specifically support a symposium, the Brain Century Symposium, that would explain the importance and recent advances of brain research to diverse audiences. A special guest, Mr. Izumi Tateno, will be invited to give a special lecture on music and plasticity of the brain. He is a prominent pianist who successfully recovered from a stroke and continues to play with his left hand. He and the other lecturers will attract many participants and encourage more support for neuroscience in the country.

    Link: (in Japanese)

    Malaysia: Michael King Hwa Ling
    The Malaysian Society of Neurosciences, Sernagor

    Abstract of proposal:

    The Malaysian Society of Neurosciences (MSN) was established in 1989 in order to support and champion the field of neuroscience throughout the country. Today, there are more than 200 neuroscientists and more than 1,000 brain-related clinicians and health employees working in Malaysia. However, most of these individuals are isolated and there is no unified effort to improve R&D funding and awareness of neuroscience research relevant to the nation’s welfare. As a result, MSN has taken the lead in spearheading efforts to bring together the disparate individuals and stakeholder groups and establish a common voice and authority to increase support, recognition and awareness of pressing neuroscience issues. 

    The IBRO Global Advocacy Seed Grant would allow MSN to organize a 2-day workshop at the Universiti Putra Malaysia in Selangor to bring leaders of neuroscience societies, universities, government and the Malaysian Academy of Sciences to establish a common awareness of the importance of neuroscience advocacy in the country, the role of neuroscience R&D and support for the formation of a national neuroscience umbrella organization.


     Mongolia: Battuvshin Lkhagvasuren
    Mongolian Neuroscience Society, Ulaanbaatar

    Abstract of proposal:

    There has been a complete absence of neuroscience advocacy in Mongolia. Policymakers and legislators are unaware of how to evaluate brain research needs in society, engage in multi-stakeholder discussions, develop policies or implement national strategies and workplans based on research-based evidence in the field of neuroscience. It is essential to begin establishing a strong foundation of advocacy in the country as soon as possible in order to secure the future welfare of its citizens. First steps should utilize advocacy to address urgent national needs in general education about science in general and neuroscience in particular, help to build scientific infrastructure, increase R&D funding and strengthen available human resources.

    The IBRO Global Advocacy Seed Grant would help support four main activities: 1) A scientific meeting for professionals, “Multidisciplinary Brain Science” at the Second Annual Meeting of MNS; 2) A national press conference to raise awareness about neuroscience for the general public; 3) A Board Meeting about neuroscience needs in Mongolia with policymakers; and 4) Public lecture about neuroscience for high school students in order to inspire future neuroscientists and increase awareness about the field.

    Links: •

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    LATIN AMERICA 2015-16

      Argentina: Ana Belén Elgoyhen
      Sociedad Argentina de Investigación en Neurociencias (SAN), Buenos Aires

    Abstract of proposal:

    Advocacy in neuroscience is a fundamental component of the Sociedad Argentina de Investigación en Neurociencias (SAN) mission. The Society has shown a strong commitment to promoting awareness of basic neuroscience knowledge as well as the most advanced neuroscience research for a wide range of audiences in Argentina. Public, media, academic, clinical and political communities have all been successfully connected through the Society’s efforts to engage in constructive discussions and interactions, increasing understanding of neuroscience across the country.

    The IBRO Global Advocacy Seed Grant would support these efforts by providing funds for three activities: A workshop introducing the field of neuroscience to journalists; a course and poster session on “Bridging Neuroscience and Neurology” during the annual meetings of the Argentine Society of Neurology and the Argentine Society for Research in Neuroscience; and Brain Awareness Week projects.


     Brazil: Cecilia Hedin-Pereira
     Rio de Janeiro Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Chapter, Rio de Janeiro

    Abstract of proposal:

    The Rio Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Chapter has adopted the great challenge of convincing government and public about the relevance of neuroscience in Brazilian society and its significance for the future health of the population. Its mission emphasizes the multidisciplinary nature of the field and supports creative channels such as interactive artistic activities to increase understanding about brain science and research. The Rio Chapter has even developed its own method called the ArtSci Live Labs to bring the public, neuroscientists and artists together in a common learning environment, transferring neural concepts from neuroscientists to the public through artistic communicators.

    In order to further develop this interaction, the IBRO Global Advocacy Seed Grant would allow the Rio SfN Chapter to hold another live lab experience that will invite artist/musician Dandara Dantas to help encourage discussion and learning about the neural code. The lab will be conducted during the Rio 2016 Brain Awareness Week and is expected to function on its putative parallels with contemporary science and on its possible role as a metaphorical transducer of scientific logical systems.

     Chile: Andrés Oscar Couve Correa
     The Biomedical Neuroscience Institute, Santiago de Chile

    Abstract of proposal:

    The Biomedical Neuroscience Institute (BNI) in Santiago, Chile, is funded by the Millennium Science Initiative of the Chilean Ministry of Economy and is primarily dedicated to connecting and training neuroscientists and mathematicians to pursue cutting-edge research. Since 2011, it has also been committed to promoting neuroscience within the non-scientific community through online and on-site activities. The Institute recognizes the importance of increasing awareness and understanding about brain research in the public domain. It has successfully illustrated how neuroscience relates to daily life and and how it can improve and prolong human health.

    With an IBRO Global Advocacy Seed Grant, BNI will be able to further develop its advocacy activities. During its annual BNI Basic Clinical Encounter lecture series, the Institute will hold special events and invite lecturers who will specifically help to inform the general public, students, health professionals, patients and government officials about diseases of the brain and related research and therapies.


      Uruguay: Francesco Rossi
      Sociedad de Neurociencias del Uruguay, Montevideo

    Abstract of proposal:

    The Sociedad de Neurociencias del Uruguay (SNU) has a proven history of neuroscience advocacy in the public and political arenas. It has organized the annual Uruguayan Brain Awareness Week since 2011 and has successfully promoted, through on-site activities and media programs, greater understanding of neuroscience research and its social relevance across the country. However, SNU believes that it is still necessary to continue and expand education about neuroscience for the benefit of the public and to bring neuroscientists and policymakers together to influence political decision-making and national legislation.

    The IBRO Global Advocacy Seed Grant would help to reinforce these efforts by supporting a number of advocacy activities during the next Brain Awareness Week in March 2016: A fair in the square of the capital to help inform school children and the public through different exhibitions; public lectures by neuroscientists; classroom activities in schools; media interviews and publicity; a scientific policy workshop; and the production of audiovisual material for use in schools.

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