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20th ECNP Congress 2007, Oct. 13-17, Vienna, Austria

Mental disorders are major causes of disability worldwide and rank as number one in terms of direct and indirect health economic costs as a recent ECNP commissioned report has demonstrated (Wittchen et al 2005). Depression, for instance, produces the greatest decrement in health compared with the common chronic diseases angina pectoris, arthritis, asthma, and diabetes (Moussavi et al., 2007) followed by addictive disorders (nicotine, alcohol, drugs). Unmet needs for mental health treatment today are pervasive all over the world and especially concerning in less-developed countries. A recent large worldwide study with 84.850 adults living in 17 low- to middle-income and high-income countries points out that although up to 30% of the population is expected to have clear-cut mental illness every year, in every one country studied, at least two-thirds of people who are mentally ill receive no treatment. In Europe, 27% of the population is affected by mental illness every year, but 74% is not treated, whereas only 8% of diabetics receives no care (Wittchen & Jacobi 2005; Wang et al., 2007; Thornicroft 2007). Thus, there is a compelling need to improve the fate of people struck by mental disorders, and vigorously reinforce the value of psychiatry and related disciplines for society.

20th ECNP Congress, Vienna

This week (13-17 October 2007) over 6000 psychiatrists, neurologists, psychologists and neuroscience researchers and practitioners from all over the world will join in Vienna at the 20th ECNP Congress to present and discuss the latest breakthroughs, the progress and the future perspectives in the fields of the origin and treatment of mental disorders, disorders of the brain, neuropsychopharmacology and related fields.

This largest high scientific standard meeting in Europe will provide all participants with the latest achievements and future perspectives in neuropsychopharmacology and closely related fields of virtually all disorders of the brain. The ECNP Congress is also expected to raise awareness about the size and burden of mental disorders in Europe and the availability of new treatments and to stimulate discussion about ways of implementing new knowledge and new therapeutic approaches.

The ECNP Congresses, playing a leading role in bringing together distinguished scientists identifying and testing promising new medications with novel mechanisms, are currently paving the groundwork for the next generation of pharmacological treatments, which will improve the lives of the millions of people who suffer from mental disorders.

Outstanding Highlights of the 20th ECNP Congress

Among the ECNP Congress extensive programmatic coverage of over 100 topics presented by over 600 experts, this years outstanding highlights are:

  • Latest research in Alzheimer's disease opens the door for new treatments: Groundbreaking new discoveries have opened the door for a new and better understanding of Alzheimers disease, as one of the most important future public health challenges. This work presented by Thomas Bayer carries the promise of developing new treatments.

  • Neurobiological pathways between depression and cardiovascular diseases are clarified: Latest research is now available that helps us to understand which common biological changes are involved in the already known link between depression and life-threatening cardiovascular disease. Alexander Glassman will present and discuss the therapeutic consequences of these findings.

  • Genetic contributions to human brain morphology and intelligence: Hilleke Hulshoff Pol presents persuasive evidence how genetic factors influence the brain structure opening new insights into the reciprocal gene-environment developmental pathways.

  • The role and therapeutic opportunities of cannabinoids: Raphael Mechoulam also last year winner of the prestigious ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award in Clinical Science Research will tell the discovery story of the endocannabinoid system. His research has not only helped us to advance our understanding of cannabis use and its effects, but has also made key contributions with regard to understanding neuroprotection and has opened the door for the development of new drugs.

  • The influence of opioid receptors in the brain: The opioid system controls pain, reward and addictive behaviour. Brigitte Kieffer presents exciting new methods that now allow to understand how molecules act in the brain and control behaviour.

  • Computerised training of working memory is a promising therapeutic strategy in ADHD: ADHD is an increasingly frequent complex mental disorder in children with partly devastating consequences for the childs further development and the families. Torkel Klingberg presents new and very promising strategies of research to develop more appropriate treatments that specifically refer to the patients basic neuropsychological dysfunctions and mechanisms.

Invitation: Meet the scientists!

All the experts of the above listed themes will be available for questions by journalists in the course of topic specific press conferences on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday afternoon. You will find a detailed schedule of the press conferences in the enclosed Press information and procedures.

In addition, cutting edge research findings in the fields of Depression, Bipolar Affective Disorders, Schizophrenia, Anxiety Disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Addiction and Basic Neuroscience will be presented in plenary lectures, educational updates and symposia, taking into account genetically related approaches as well as gender-specific aspects. Emphasis is placed on clear take-home-messages that can easily be transposed into clinical practice by medical professionals.

Due to the growing influence of health economic aspects on the treatment of mental illnesses, attention will be also drawn to the impact of publicly-funded mega-trials on clinical practice. Based on several recent trials the clinical and quality of life effects of psychopharmacologic treatments as well as their impact on the use and cost of medical services will be evaluated and discussed. ECNP hopes that this session will stimulate discussion of pharmaco-economic issues in psychiatry and will lead to greater physician involvement in the ongoing cost-management debates.

ECNP is also proud to present in the educational track the Report of the ECNP Consensus Meeting 2007 on the topic Bipolar depression. With annual consensus meetings on specific topics ECNP aims to facilitate the dialogue between the European regulatory authorities, the scientific community and the pharmaceutical industry in order to achieve a common policy in neuropsychopharmacology.

Paper submission again exceeded all expectations and has been accommodated by further increasing the number of posters. Overall, 730 papers were accepted for poster presentation offering an exciting insight into the research activities of young scientists and members of the ECNP. From the posters 12 will be selected to give an oral presentation during the Selected Poster Presentations (SPP) on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Outstanding scientists are nominated for the ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award. The ceremony for the winner of the ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award 2007 in Basic Science Research, E. Ron de Kloet will be held on Saturday 13 October, as part of the welcome ceremony.


Contact: Sonja Mak
European College of Neuropsychopharmacology

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