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Over the past year, the IBRO ARC has organized or co-sponsored schools, workshops and courses to provide neuroscience training and exposure to neuroscience research topics that are especially relevant to the continent of Africa:
• Infections of the CNS: Gaborone, Botswana, January 26-28 (organized by S. Vento and K. Kristensson). This workshop provided an overview of current knowledge on neurobiology as well as the clinics, diagnostics and treatment of infections of the nervous system that are prevalent in Southern African countries.
• The first Neurology Awareness and Training Week: Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, May 25-30. Under the theme of “Tropical Neuroendemics,” this event was organized through the Congolese Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, with the participation of IBRO and other groups. The workshop was followed by a meeting on the same topic, drawing nearly 230 people, including medical students, residents, lab technicians, physicians, and public health personnel.
• APRONES Symposium on Brain Rehabilitation: Lubumbashi, DRC, May 28- 30 (organized by M. Luabeya): This symposium focused on diseases frequently encountered in Africa, such as epilepsy and spastic tropical paraparesia.
• Inter-regional IBRO School, “From nutrition to zoonosis,” Maputo, Mozambique, June 10-15 (organized by J. Palha, L. Gouveia and E. Noormohamed). The school brought together professionals and students from various backgrounds (psychiatrists, psychologists, neurologists, general physicians, nutritionists, pediatricians, occupational therapists and veterinarians) to a discussion of neuroscience related diseases of concern not only in Africa but throughout the world.
• The 2nd East Africa Neuroscience Congress: Nairobi, Kenya, June 18-19 (organized by C. Newton, A. Mohammed and N. Patel). The many participants were from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania and the topics included epilepsy, malnutrition and cognition, behavioral disorders in children, cerebral malaria and cognitive intervention.
• The 4th Regional Teaching Course: Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, June 20 (organized by R. Kalaria and A.G. Diop). Thanks to the contribution of EFNS, IBRO and WFN, it was possible this year to invite and sponsor a number of trainees, specifically recommended by the heads of their local neurological departments, from the neighboring countries to Kenya to attend the course.
• The 1st IBRO School on Insect Neuroscience: Kampala, Uganda, August 20 to September 7 (organized by L. Godino, S. Yusuf, J. Berni and T. Baden). The School was co-initiated by IBRO Alumni (S. Yusuf, ARC, and J. Berni, LARC) at Kampala International University to introduce the use of insects as powerful, yet inexpensive, model systems in neuroscientific research. With their comparatively simple nervous systems, tractable genetic access and low maintenance costs, Drosophila and other insects have rapidly consolidated their status as key model systems in scientific research.
• Special Session on Neuroscience at the 6th International Conference of the African Association of Physiological Sciences (AAPS): Ismailia, Egypt, September 1-6 (organized by Y. El-Wazir).
• The 5th Teaching Tools Workshop: Durban, South Africa, September 5 (main organizer: S. Juliano, USA). This activity, co-sponsored with SfN, was well attended and successfully run, as were the four Teaching Workshops previously held in Senegal, Egypt, Kenya, and Ghana. Several ARC and co-opted members participated as instructors.
• Regional Workshop on Peripheral Neuropathy and Myopathies (basic and clinical aspects): Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, October 15-20 (organized by G. Zenebe, B. Arasho and M. Zbenegus). This workshop was aimed at developing training in neurology and neuroscience research in Ethiopia.
• Inter-Regional IBRO School on Environment, Epigenetics and Behavior: Mombasa, Kenya, December 8-15 (organized by S. Hashim, A. Mohammed, N. Patel and K. Kristensson). This school addressed a theme that is highly relevant for African, Asian and European countries: namely, how environmental factors (e.g. toxins and infectious agents as well as nutritional conditions) can affect the nervous system and lead to cause behavior disturbances, particularly from early-life exposure.
• IBRO Advanced School: Chinese University of Hong Kong, June 6-15 (organized by W.H. Yung). The School focused on molecular, electrophysiological and imaging techniques in neuroscience research. Mini-projects were tackled by students in the laboratory.
• IBRO Associate School in Osaka: Osaka University, Japan, September 25-28 (organized by A. Wanaka). This School – under the theme of neurodegeneration and neuroplasticity – was held in conjunction with the 11th biennial meeting of the Asian Pacific Society for Neurochemistry (APSN) and the 55th annual meeting of the Japanese Society for Neurochemistry, under the joint sponsorship with the International Society for Neurochemistry and APSN.
• 3rd School of Neuroscience in Monash: Monash University Campus Sun Way, Malaysia, November 19-30 (organized by I. Parhar). The region’s pioneering work in live cell imaging, neurogenomics, confocal imaging, laser capture micro dissection and behavioral analysis formed part of this school. Cutting-edge sessions kept senior PhD students and junior post-doctoral fellows abreast with advances in key areas of neuroscience research.
• IBRO Associate School in Qingdao: Qingdao University, China, November 29 November to December 3 (organized by J. Xie). This School introduced the most recent concepts and advances of neuroscience for senior PhD students and junior post-doctoral fellows in the Asia-Pacific region, focusing on molecular, electrophysiological and behavioral studies in neuroscience research.
• Inter-regional IBRO School of Computational Neuroscience: Hyderabad, India, December 5-21 (organized by V. Srivastava and J. Joseph). This School aimed to escalate the efforts to bridge the wide gap between experimental data on neuroscience and the conceptual understanding of the brain phenomena. IBRO's Asia-Pacific, Africa and Western Europe regional committees brought together professionals and students from various backgrounds – mathematics, physics, computer science, engineering, experimental and theoretical neuroscience, and psychology – to share knowledge, expertise and thoughts, and in the process get students trained for a career in computational and theoretical neuroscience.
• Exchange Fellowships: Four young researchers were selected for the IBRO-APRC Exchange Fellowship Program (two from India to Australia, two from Iran to Japan), which sponsors young APRC neuroscientists (under 40 years old) to spend 4-6 months in another host laboratory within the region.
Throughout the past year, CEERC has continued to encourage and support educational programs within the region with particular emphasis on empowering networking between young neuroscientists, as well as enhancing international participation at meetings of national neuroscience societies:
• InEurope (the IntraEuropean Mobility Project), a laboratory short-stay visit program originated by CEERC and WERC, funded four more stipends for young investigators from Central and Eastern Europe to carry out collaborative studies, learn new techniques, and write joint papers and grant applications.
• An IBRO International Workshop, held on January 19 in Budapest, Hungary, was the opening event of a series of conferences throughout 2012 celebrating the 100th birthday of neurobiologist János Szentágothai, and was organized in association with the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
• The second NEURONUS, an IBRO Young Neuroscience Forum, took place April 20-22 in Krakow, Poland. Together with IRUN (International Research Universities Network) and supported by grants from both the IBRO CEERC and WERC, this student-organized meeting consisted of an intensive 3-day program of plenary lectures and presentation sessions, including more than 50 speakers in total. The meeting was attended by approximately 450 neuroscientists affiliated with 15 countries from throughout Western, Central and Eastern Europe.
• Travel awards to attend 2012 FENS Forum in Barcelona, Spain, were provided to 24 post-docs and PhD students representing Central and Eastern European countries.
• Neurogenetics: Unravelling behaviour and brain mechanisms using modern technologies was a conference for young researchers held in Zvenigorod, Russia, from August 20 to 25, and received funding from CEERC.
• The 10th East European Conference of the International Society for Invertebrate Neurobiology, “Simpler Nervous Systems,” was held in Moscow, Russia, from September 6 to 10. CEERC provided funding for nine travel stipends.
• The 3rd Conference of the National Neuroscience Society of Romania, held in Bucharest, Romania on October 18-19, received funding from CEERC to secure international participation.
Joint initiative with the French Society of Neuroscience: WERC funded travel grants from South America and from North Africa or Middle East countries to attend the Alfred Fessard symposium, held in Paris on May 23, 2012, and to help the recipients to contact French neuroscientists and to visit French laboratories in order to find a post-doctoral position in France.
NEURONUS Meeting in Krakow: Together with CEERC, WERC helped support the NEURONUS Meeting held in Krakow, Poland from April 20 to 22, 2012, which was attended by approximately 450 neuroscientists from 15 countries in Western, Central and Eastern Europe.
WERC-CEERC Intra-European mobility – InEurope Initiative: This joint CEERCWERC programme provides short, goal-directed grants to allow exchanges within European laboratories. The number of applications this year was double the number of applications received in 2011, and WERC has awarded 8 grants in the current year.
Travel grants for attending the FENS meeting in Barcelona: Upon the occasion of the FENS forum in Barcelona in 2012, IBRO WERC offered a total of 30 stipends of 750 euros each, for attending the FENS meeting.
Young Investigator Visiting Programme - FENS Forum 2012: The objective of this initiative was to facilitate short research stays (2-4 weeks) in one of the leading Spanish Neuroscience Institutions before or after attending the FENS Forum. Expressions of interest from a large number of Spanish laboratories were received, covering all the Neuroscience fields, from genes to behavioural and model approaches. Forty three young investigators, representing 28 different countries, were able to participate.
Sponsoring workshops or other meetings: WERC launched a call, for the first time, for applications to support students from lessfavored regions to gain access to excellent meetings in Europe and have the opportunity to share time with European faculty and European students who may be at the forefront of neurobiological research in a few years.
Most of the academic activities promoted and organized by LARC were co-sponsored or partially financed by local institutions (universities, research institutes, national research councils, private foundations, etc.) and international scientific organizations. In addition, a substantial part of IBRO LARC’s resources in 2012 went toward supporting the 1st Meeting of the Federation of Neuroscience Societies in Latin America, the Caribbean and the Iberian Peninsula (FALAN). The main LARC-funded activities that took place during the past year include:
• IV Latin American School on Computational Neuroscience: University of São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, Brazil, January 15 to February 10 (organized by A. Roque). This 4-week school, taught by an international team of world-renowned researchers in the field of computational neuroscience, covered biophysically detailed single neuron models, simplified neuron models, neural network models, synaptic plasticity and memory models, system-level brain models, information theory and spike train analysis, and computational cognitive neuroscience.
• 2012 Miledi Neuroscience Training Program of the Society for Neuroscience, with IBRO sponsorship: Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 5-30 (organized by A. Schinder and O. Uchitel). The course topic, "Neuroscience: Synapses, Circuits and Behavior," provided students with a comprehensive view of relevant concepts and current techniques in neuroscience to graduate students and post-docs in the Latin America and Caribbean region.
• First IBRO Neuroscience School in Bolivia (LARC/NIH supported): Universidad De Nuestra Señora De La Paz, La Paz, Bolivia, November 26 to December 7 (organized by V.H.R. Campos, F. F. de Miguel and O. Uchitel). Based on the experience of the 2009 IBRO Visiting Lecture Team Programme course in La Paz, the Bolivian Society for Neurosciences organized this course, focusing on undergraduate students from Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru and Paraguay – South-American countries bearing talent and interest, but currently lacking opportunities for neuroscience development.
• Two specialized training courses – the 5th Latin American Summer School on Epilepsy and the 2nd Latin American Summer School in Computational Neuroscience 2012 – were chosen through a competitive decision process to receive financial support from IBRO LARC.
• Travel and Short Stay Grants (up to 1200 euros) were given to young scientists to facilitate travel to laboratories in the region, including Colombia to Brazil, Peru to Brazil, Argentina to Brazil, and Argentina to Chile.
• LARC Intra/Inter-regional Exchange Awards provided travel funds to young researchers in the region to travel from Cuba to Brazil, Cuba to Spain, Argentina to Italy, and Argentina to the U.S.
• Prolab: This program was launched in 2010 to promote cooperative research by laboratories from two different Latin American and Caribbean countries during two years. Two grants were awarded in 2011-12: T. Fernadez (Mexico) - V. Rodriguez (Cuba); R. Vargas (Colombia) - D. Golombek (Argentina).
• The 1st Meeting of the Federation of Neuroscience Societies in Latin America, the Caribbean and the Iberian Peninsula (FALAN) was held November 4-9 in Cancún, Mexico. The IBRO LARC provided 60 travel grants for young investigators throughout Latin America and the Caribbean to attend the meeting, and also sponsored three pre-Congress courses and 20 symposia.
IBRO Fellows Program: In 2012, the USCRC worked with the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) course instructors to identify and encourage highly qualified and motivated research trainees from developing countries to apply for admission to summer neuroscience courses at the MBL and CSHL. Eight MBL fellowships were awarded, and additional CSHL fellowships are expected to be awarded later in the year. Since 2002, nearly 75 students from more than 15 counties have been awarded IBRO fellowships facilitating their participation in these highly competitive and respected MBL and CSHL courses.
The 6th Canadian School of Neuroscience, “Neuroplasticity in Development, Learning and Disease,” took place May 13- 19 in Vancouver (organized by E. Cooper). The School’s organizing committee, in consultation with members of the IBRO Regional Committees for Africa (ARC) and Latin America (LARC), selected 12 students from over 125 applicants. The students included graduate students, postdoctoral trainees and junior staff and originated from Cameroon, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Argentina, Cuba, Brazil, and Mexico. An important component of the Canadian IBRO schools is attendance of the associated CAN Annual Neuroscience meeting, where the IBRO students had meetings with the keynote speakers following their lectures.
The Fifth Teaching Tools School and Workshop was held in association with the University of KwaZulu Natal in Durban, South Africa, from September 8 to 23 (organized by S. Juliano). This program focuses training efforts in Africa for the next several years and will establish a network of instructors that will sustain continued progress in neuroscience education. Pedagogical training offered and modeled at the workshops prepare trainees to develop new lectures and course materials independently.
The First IBRO Neuroscience School in Bolivia (cofunded with IBRO-LARC) took place at the Universidad de Nuestra Señora de La Paz, Bolivia, from November 26 to December 7. A major goal of this course was to continue to produce a critical mass of regional students and professors who will continue to participate in the local organization and promotion of neuroscience.