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Alzheimer Europe holds lunch debate examining European research collaborations

Tuesday 18 February 2020

Alzheimer Europe has co-hosted, with Neuronet, a lunch debate on 18 February 2020, focusing on research collaborations at a European level. The lunch debate, entitled “The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI): Advancing Alzheimer’s research through private-public partnerships”, was attended by 70 people including national member organisations, government experts on dementia, academics, industry representatives and policy makers. 

Christophe Hansen MEP (EPP, Luxembourg), Vice-Chairperson of the European Alzheimer’s Alliance (EAA), opened the session by noting that the lack of a disease modifying treatment meant dementia must be prioritised as a research topic, with significant investment coming from public-private partnerships over the past decade.

Carlos Diaz, Project Coordinator for the Neuronet project, outlined the work of the project in supporting the neurodegeneration portfolio of the IMI, as well as the opportunities to identify gaps and potential synergies between the different projects. He also explained how Neuronet would ensure that projects in the IMI portfolio did not work in isolation and the outputs from their work would be more visible.

Bart Vannieuwenhuyse, Co-Lead of the European Medical Information Framework (EMIF) project (2013 – 2017), provided a background to the project which established a foundational information framework supporting dementia research. The project operated as part of the first IMI and responded to a recognition that data was often held in silos, which was often detrimental to research into dementia.

Pierre Meulien, Executive Director of IMI, provided an overview of the public-private partnerships in relation to neurodegeneration research, as well as looking to future collaborations. It was explained that the IMI portfolio covered created conditions to allow for multi-sector and multi-disciplinary engagement at the forefront of research, providing the necessary scale for funding, expertise, knowledge, skills and resources.

Jean Georges, Executive Director of Alzheimer Europe, formally launched two new Alzheimer Europe publications. The first, the Dementia in Europe Yearbook 2019 focuses on the prevalence rates of dementia across Europe, whilst the second is an ethics discussion paper, focusing on the involvement of people with dementia in research.

Alzheimer Europe Vice-Chairperson, Charles Scerri, closed the session by thanking speakers and attendees for coming to the debate. Christophe Hansen also thanked attendees from across sectors and disciplines for attending the meeting, highlighting the importance of collaboration between partners when conducting dementia research, with the political support for programmes such as Horizon Europe being crucial to continue this work.