“A meeting like this is so important because it brings together people who are looking at development from the cellular level to the population level. If we are going to find out the pieces of the puzzle, we need to bring these things all together.” - Attendee
The Academy’s first scientific meeting, the theme of which was ‘The developing brain in health and disease’ took place on 19-20 March at Lady Margaret Hall in Oxford, bringing together around 100 researchers from different disciplines. Over the course of two days, delegates discussed how to address the key scientific, health and societal challenges within neurodevelopmental research.
Attendees noted the meeting’s unique environment which emphasised discussion and collaboration between disciplines, career stages, and sectors. Many of the attendees fed back the importance of bringing together clinical and non-clinical researchers in this area – a rare and valuable occurrence.
Ahead of the meeting, on 18 March, the Academy held a background press briefing at the Science Media Centre, with three of the keynote speakers and the steering group co-Chair, to provide the UK press with the context, background and an overview of the latest neurodevelopmental research.
As a result, the meeting received extensive press coverage, with the lead story coming from Professor Peter Jones FMedSci who, at the press briefing, spoke about how the brain is still maturing late into our 20s. This story was picked up locally, nationally and internationally, reaching over 13.5 million people – read the BBC coverage of the story here. It was also broadcast on regional and national radio, as well as through international outlets such as Bloomberg.
The scientific meeting itself opened with a keynote by Professor Arnold Kriegstein from the University of California speaking about the evolution of brain development. Ending the first day, Dr Susan Weiss from the National Institutes of Health introduced the study she is leading to track the neurodevelopment of over 10,000 children. The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States, will give researchers new insights and baselines for normal brain development.
On day two, Professor Peter Jones FMedSci from the University of Cambridge, whose research had been picked up by the media following the press briefing, was pleased to go into greater detail on the influence of the environment on the brain. Professor Daniel Geschwind, also from the University of California, gave the final keynote focusing on genetic components of neurodevelopmental disorders.
Videos of talks from the conference, including keynote speeches, alongside a full report of the meeting, will be available on our website shortly.
This meeting was possible thanks to funding from the Academy’s Development Fund and support from the following donor organisations: Alzheimer's Research UK, the Company of Biologists, F1000 Research, the Guarantors of Brain, the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO), the International Society for Developmental Neuroscience, the Loulou Foundation, Peak Labs and the Wellcome Trust.