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    IBRO Global Advocacy: 2015-16 Seed Grant Awardees

    Image credit: World background designed by Freepik.

    IBRO is pleased to announce the first Global Advocacy Seed Grant Awardees in the Asia Pacific, Africa and Latin America regions. Up to €5,000 has been awarded to each winner. The supported events and activities will address the specific needs of neuroscience advocacy in the country where they are to be 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.

    IBRO would like to thank its Global Advocacy Initiative partners - Society for Neuroscience (SfN), Federation for European Neuroscience Societies (FENS), International Society for Neurochemistry (ISN), Japan Neuroscience Society (JNS), Australasian Neuroscience Society, and the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives. Without such strong collaborative relationships, global advocacy for neuroscience would not be possible.

    If you would like to learn more about the IBRO Global Advocacy Initiative, please read more here.

    The next application call for global advocacy seed grants will be in May 2016.

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    ASIA PACIFIC

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

    Abstract of the 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.

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

    Abstract of the 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. 

     Tadaharu Tsumoto, Brain Science Institute, RIKEN, Wako, Japan
     Organisation: The Japan Neuroscience Society

    Abstract of the 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. 

     Battuvshin Lkhagvasuren, Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
     Organisation: Mongolian Neuroscience Society

    Abstract of the 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.

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    AFRICA

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

    Abstract of the 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.

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

    Abstract of the 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.

     Tamer Emara, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt
     Organisation: Ain Shams University

    Abstract of the 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.

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    LATIN AMERICA

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

    Abstract of the 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.

      Ana Belén Elgoyhen, Institute of Investigation in Genetic Engineering & Molecular Biology, Argentina
      Organisation: Sociedad Argentina de Investigación en Neurociencias

    Abstract of the 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.

     Cecilia Hedin-Pereira, Fundação Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
     Organisation: Rio de Janeiro Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Chapter

    Abstract of the 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.

      Francesco Rossi, Universidad de La Republica, Montevideo, Uruguay
      Organisation: Sociedad de Neurociencias del Uruguay

    Abstract of the 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.