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    IBRO-PERC supports young scientists and cholinergic mechanisms research at XVth ISCM

    IBRO-PERC supported the participation of young European scientists and the organisation of the XVth International Symposium on Cholinergic Mechanisms (ISCM) in Marseille, France, that took place between 16-20 October 2016. This funding was granted under its annual funding program for IBRO-PERC Financial Support for Workshops, Symposia and Other Meetings (applications currently open for 2017 until 15 February). The Symposium welcomed 188 participants and had 24 countries represented, of which 9 were outside of Europe. Please find the Symposium report below.

    The International Symposia on Cholinergic Mechanisms (ISCM) started in 1970 and were held every three to four years in Europe, America and China. Initially, the neuromuscular junction was the best characterised synapse, and the ISCMs gathered a community of top-level scientists pioneering in the identification of its molecular components, the mechanisms ensuring transmission by acetylcholine, and related pharmacological, toxicological and clinical aspects.

    Since then, all significant outcomes in the molecular, cellular, pharmacological, toxicological, behavioural and clinical aspects of the central and peripheral cholinergic systems have been highlighted, exchanged and critically discussed during the ISCMs. The XVth ISCM largely followed and extended this tradition in covering the latest advances in the neurobiology, structural biology and pharmacology of the cholinergic systems.

    In the brain, with the regulation of higher brain functions, the onset of the neurodegenerative Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, and nicotine/tobacco addiction. In the muscle, with genetic or developmental neuromuscular diseases such as Myasthenia Gravis, congenital myasthenic syndromes, or the Lambert-Eaton syndrome. In both organs, because they are targets not only for new therapeutic agents but also for neurotoxics and insecticides. And in the more recently explored non-neuronal immune and inflammatory systems.

    Hence, the XVth ISCM gathered scientists from various backgrounds to exchange the latest advances from the mind to the brain and body and to the molecule and atom, and to permit cross-fertilisation between these fields. The XVth ISCM was also an opportunity to foresee the further steps toward an integrative approach of cholinergic systems, with unique potentialities in fundamental science and in clinics, and to transmit our passion to the young “cholinergikers.”

    In particular:

    To encourage discussions and cross-fertilization and avoid topics being solely categorized in terms of cholinergic proteins/drug targets, we organized "thematic sessions":

    • Higher brain functions / nicotinic and muscarinic modulation

    • Neurodegenerative diseases, development, neurogenesis

    • Brain: cholinergic circuits, optogenetic stimulation of cholinergic neurons

    • Inflammation / non-neuronal cholinergic systems (parts 1 and 2 on same day)

    • Genetics: human, animal models, polymorphism, evolution, epigenetics

    • Supramolecular organisation of the synapse

    • Neuromuscular junction and motoneuron: development, diseases and therapeutic strategies

    • Nicotine addiction and tobacco abuse

    • Pharmacology, modulators, toxins, drug design, therapeutic agents (parts 1 and 2 on different days)

    • Structure-dynamics-function relationships of cholinergic proteins (parts 1 and 2 on different days)

    • Allostery in cholinergic receptors and enzymes

    • Exposure to organophosphorus pesticides and nerve agents

    To help coordinate future research, meetings, and outreach activities we organised a roundtable on:

    • Societal and funding issues associated with cholinergic neurotransmission

    To promote our young cholinergikers we organised 2 Award Sessions dedicated to short presentations by:

    • 8 B.P. Doctor Memorial Award laureates

    • 9 Poster Prize laureates

    Six young investigators total received an ISN/IBRO-PERC Young Investigator Poster Prize of €500 each. To avoid competition between the Poster Prize awardees, the French Organising Committee had voted equal contributions by the two organisations, (i.e., €1500 were taken from the IBRO-PERC funds and the same amount from ISN funds). Poster Prize candidates were identified in the program booklet by a note at top of their abstract. The scientific and aesthetic quality of the posters and the ability of the candidates to present and discuss them were examined by an anonymous committee made of 4 senior “cholinergikers” during the first poster session. The names of the laureates were announced at the the day before the short presentations by laureates on Day 3. Poster Prize certificates were given to the winners by IAB President, Hermona Soreq.

    Please find the overall timetable of the XVth ISCM here:

    https://iscm.sciencesconf.org/data/pages/Overview_ISCM_14oct.pdf

    The detailed program with sessions, chairpersons and speakers is available here:

    https://iscm.sciencesconf.org/data/pages/Agenda_Updated_Oct20.pdf

    The French Organising Committee to the XVth ISCM warmly thanks the Pan-European Research Committee of the International Brain Research Organisation for the kind and most appreciated support for the participation of young European scientists and the organisation of the symposium.

    - Pascale Marchot, on behalf of the French Organising Committee