The 2017 FORUM Annual Lecture - ‘the mind-body interface’

The mind-body interface - 2017 FORUM Annual Lecture 

On Wednesday 6 September 2017, the Academy hosted its 15th FORUM Annual Lecture on 'The mind-body interface', which explored some of the exciting new discoveries around the links between the immune system and the brain and the implications that this has for a field of medicine called 'bioelectronics', as well as advances in our understanding of the integration of mental and physical health and how this can influence current healthcare practices..

Professor Kevin Tracey, President and CEO, The US Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, started the day with a keynote presentation on 'Molecular mechanisms in bioelectronic medicine'.  The lecture was then followed by a panel discussion chaired by Professor Sir Robert Lechler PMedSci, with distinguished guests including:

  • Professor Ed Bullmore FMedSci, Vice-President Immunopsychiatry, GlaxoSmithKline, and Head of the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge
  • Professor Matthew Hotopf FMedSci, Professor of General Hospital Psychiatry, King's College London
  • Professor Brenda Penninx, Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center Amsterdam
  • Melissa Smith, Ophthalmology nurse and service user, East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust 

Professor Tracey provided a vibrant picture of the past 20 years of research that he and others have undertaken to better understand the mechanisms behind the regulation of the immune system by the brain. This has opened up opportunities for the use of bioelectronic devices to revolutionise the treatment of many diseases caused by uncontrolled inflammation, through controlled electrical impulses.

Kevin Tracey

This was followed by a thought-provoking set of presentations and discussions from the panel, who touched on topics such as the integration of mental and physical care and the importance of treating both the mind and body in parallel, the role of inflammation in mental health disorders, and the need for a culture change to address some of the stigmas around mental health, which is already starting to happen through a better understanding of the scientific basis of mental health conditions. 

FORUM panel

The 2017 FORUM Annual Lecture was held at the British Academy and was livestreamed. A fully edited video will shortly be available on our YouTube page. You can see how the event unfolded on Storify and by using the hashtag #FORUM2017. The event was held as part of the Academy's FORUM programme, if you would like to know more about the forum please email The summary report has now been published and can be found on the right hand side of this page.



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