Brain research is a priority for the European Union, which supported such research at the unprecedented level of more than €3 billion during the course of the EU Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7; 2007-2013). Brain research under FP7 addressed basic, translational and clinical research, and healthcare assessment. Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020) couples research to innovation, covering all forms of innovation from research to new products and services. Horizon 2020 offers many opportunities for support to brain research and innovation. International collaboration is an integral part of EU efforts and takes place via several courses. The European Union contributes to strengthen brain international cooperation, for instance via the International Initiative for Traumatic Brain Injury Research, or the Human Brain Project.
Collaborative research on health, including brain and brain diseases research, is mainly supported under the 'Health, demographic change and well-being' societal challenge. The horizontal nature of this societal challenge, not addressing specific diseases and areas, helps ensuring the cross-fertilisation of disciplines and approaches across the entire spectrum of the health innovation chain.
The public-private partnership between the EU and pharmaceutical industry - the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 - is expected to greatly contribute to developing next generation medicines and treatments for neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases.
Horizon 2020 also supports the coordination of national research efforts on brain research, through the European Research Area Network NEURON and the Joint Programming Initiative on Neurodegenerative Diseases Research (JPND).
Stakeholders of brain research are hence encouraged to seize the many opportunities offered under Horizon 2020 in order to advance knowledge on brain and brain diseases for the benefit of citizens and healthcare systems.
Dr. Catherine Berens is the Head of Sector Neuroscience, at the Health Directorate of Directorate-General for Research and Innovation.