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23rd ECNP Congress: Europe's largest scientific meeting on mental health

Amsterdam, The Netherlands, September 2010

More than 7,000 psychiatrists, neurologists, psychologists and neuroscience researchers from all over the world met at the 23rd Congress of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) from 28 August to 1 September 2010 in Amsterdam.

The ECNP Congress is the largest scientific meeting on mental health in Europe, and this year included 46 sessions presented by more than 150 distinguished speakers from 20 countries. In addition, three poster sessions with in total more than 750 poster presentations from scientists from all over the world offered an exciting insight into the research activities of (young) scientists.

As well as providing a platform for the discussion of the latest discoveries, insights and perspectives, the congress covered a wide variety of issues of critical public health concern, such as depression, schizophrenia, addiction, chronopsychiatry, and neurodegenerative disorders, including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. The programme specifically emphasised the translation of new knowledge on fundamental disease mechanisms into clinical practice and clear take-home messages, paving the way for improved pharmacological and non-drug treatments for the prevention and treatment of all mental disorders and disorders of the brain in general.

The programme was topped off with three press conferences highlighting advances in core research areas:

  • Developmental gene-environment interactions: a model for psychosis: "Recent research findings in psychiatry indicate that genes are likely to influence disorder mostly indirectly via their impact upon physiological pathways," said Professor Jim van Os of the Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, Maastricht University Medical Centre, the Netherlands. "Thus genes work by increasing the likelihood of developing a psychiatric disorder, rather than as direct causes of disorder per se."

  • Circadian rhythms: their role and dysfunction in affective disorders: "Biological clocks play a major role in the pathophysiology of affective disorders," Professor Anna Wirz-Justice of the Psychiatric University Clinics in Basel, Switzerland, pointed out, noting that synchronising impaired circadian rhythms, improving sleep, or paradoxically staying awake most of the night can be extremely helpful in treating patients with depression and bipolar disorder.

  • The neural basis of the depressive self: In the general population, depression is still frequently associated with bad life style, impairment of volition and 'psychological weakness'. However, the results of brain imaging studies clearly have confirmed that depression is a true brain disease associated with dysfunction of specific brain regions involved in cognitive control and emotional response, explained Professor Philippe Fossati from the University Pierre & Marie Curie in Paris, France.

Further highlights were the presentation of the ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award to Kaj Blennow, Sweden, for his pioneering research into Alzheimers disease; and the ECNP Lifetime Achievement Award to Moussa B. H. Youdim, Israel, for his innovative and lasting contribution to the field of neurodegenerative diseases and neuropsychiatric drug development.

The 23rd ECNP Congress 2010 in Amsterdam marked ECNP's ongoing commitment to alleviating the burden and suffering associated with mental disorders and disorders of the brain in general and maintaining Europe's outstanding tradition of neuropsychopharmacological science.


Contact: Sonja Mak
European College of Neuropsychopharmacology

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