On Friday 5 June, Neuronet convened an online meeting of its Scientific Coordination Board (SCB). This was the fourth meeting of the SCB, which is composed of 16 leaders from Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) projects on neurodegeneration. 10 IMI projects were represented at the SCB meeting, which was also attended by Neuronet consortium members from SYNAPSE, Janssen, Sanofi, NICE and Alzheimer Europe. The meeting was chaired by the project Coordinator, Carlos Diaz (SYNAPSE Research Management Partners) and the project Leader, Lennert Steukers (Janssen).
Nina Coll (SYNAPSE) kicked off the SCB meeting by providing a brief overview of key tools and platforms developed by Neuronet in its first year. These include the Knowledge Base, which brings together information on IMI Neurodegeneration project partners, budgets, deliverables and publications, and the Asset Map, a recently created, interactive map that describes the key assets developed by the portfolio. Nina also highlighted four Neuronet deliverables that have recently been submitted, including outputs from the four Neuronet Working Groups on data sharing, regulatory affairs, sustainability and patient privacy & ethics.
A key topic for the SCB meeting was COVID-19, and the impact the pandemic is having on the IMI Neurodegeneration (ND) projects. Project leaders discussed how the Europe-wide lockdown measures have impacted on project activities and collaborators, as well as the steps they are taking to mitigate any negative impacts on their work. Several projects involving clinical studies have had to cease recruitment and study visits, while preclinical, lab-based research has also been halted due to the closure of laboratories and, in certain cases, the furloughing of staff. The SCB members expressed concern at the prospect of ND research being deprioritized, and also at the detrimental effects of the pandemic on early career researchers (ECRs).
Carlos Diaz closed the SCB meeting by summarizing some of the key priorities for Neuronet over the next few months. These include preparation for the IMI interim review, enhancing collaboration between projects, sustainability mechanisms for key assets and mechanisms to support ECRs working on IMI ND projects. Concluding, Carlos recapitulated the main conclusions, confirmed the next steps and wrapped up the meeting.