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As a global neuroscience federation dedicated to the promotion of neuroscience around the world, the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO) was chosen by several leading neuroscience societies to lead a collaborative effort in support of advocacy programs across all the world’s regions. The IBRO Global Advocacy Initiative was launched in 2012 to facilitate the development of culturally relevant educational and motivational programs that would garner wider support for neuroscience research across the world.
While medical progress and improved living conditions have generally increased life spans across the globe, an aging population brings unprecedented challenges to our medical systems and society at large, with neurological issues such as Alzheimer’s threatening to ratchet up healthcare costs beyond individual countries’ ability to afford them. What’s more, in many parts of the world neurological diseases such as epilepsy are not well understood or even accepted as underlying causes of disability. It is because of these issues that people – from politicians and policy-makers to parents and children – must understand the importance of brain research and how it can benefit human life. However, even in the most developed countries, policy-makers often see neuroscience research as a rival that could draw funding away from other big issues such as climate change and economic crises, despite the reality that none of these issues can truly be addressed without human brain power.
Neuroscientists worldwide make discoveries that advance science and improve the health of millions of people. Continued progress relies on public funding for basic, translational, and clinical science. To make the connection between scientific discovery and funding, it is vital for scientists to communicate effectively and frequently with the public and policymakers.
The mission of the IBRO Global Advocacy Initiative is to build support among key policymakers and other opinion leaders for increased resources for research and public education concerning the brain and the nervous system, in both health and disease and from early development to ageing.
“With effective advocacy, greater political will and enhanced global cooperation, neuroscience will make faster progress for the benefit of all humans,” said Pierre Magistretti, the Chair of the IBRO Global Advocacy Initiative Committee. “Neuroscience research is the key to widening what humankind has already achieved with our brains, to secure a sustainable future for forthcoming generations.”
The IBRO Global Advocacy Initiative came out of an earlier collaboration between the Society for Neuroscience (SfN), whose advocacy efforts are mainly focused within North America, and the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS), which is mobilizing its member societies to do advocacy work within European countries. Along with several other national neuroscience societies – including the Dana Foundation and the Japan and Australasian neuroscience societies – SfN and FENS agreed that IBRO should become the worldwide organizer of this initiative in order to ensure local content and relevant programming, due to IBRO’s deep, imbedded knowledge of other regions gained through decades of capacity-building in less developed regions of the world.
IBRO works closely together with all of its partners, now including the International Society for Neurochemistry, to develop the program even further. Since activities began in 2014, partners have committed funds along with IBRO to launch a perpetual funding program. The agenda for the IBRO Global Advocacy Initiative differs from other existing partnerships in that the focus is regionally and culturally targeted, prioritizing those regions and cultures with the greatest need for education and advocacy.
“Care will be taken to adopt a global voice to express all views,” said Prof. Magistretti. “IBRO’s mandate is to articulate a vision of what advocacy means across different countries and cultures, and our organization should suggest workable models that can be adapted to various regional situations.”