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Working together to address common challenges for European neurodegeneration research: Neuronet hosts four sessions at #30AEC

Thursday 22 October 2020

Neuronet has been designed to boost synergy and collaboration across the projects of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) Neurodegenerative Disorders (ND) portfolio. With a total funding budget of EUR 386 million, and addressing the whole R&D spectrum from preclinical science to real-world data, the IMI ND portfolio brings together 18 public-private partnership projects and over 230 partnering organisations.   Since its launch in 2019, Neuronet’s support activities have focused on key areas identified by projects as challenging, including data sharing and accessibility, working with Regulators, and ensuring patient privacy.  The Neuronet parallel sessions held as part of the Alzheimer Europe conference were designed to showcase the work of IMI ND projects in these key areas, stimulating discussion on major issues and how to address them. 

The first session, chaired by Carlos Diaz (SYNAPSE Research Management Partners), was entitled “Efficient data sharing: a must for science to respond to societal needs”. During this session, Nigel Hughes, Rodrigo Barnes and Colin Veal from the EHDEN and EPAD IMI projects discussed technical solutions that are being developed by IMI projects to overcome key obstacles to effective sharing of health data, including data harmonisation, federated networks, digital data discovery tools and research environments.  The second Neuronet session, entitled “Ensuring ethics and patient privacy whilst boosting research”, was chaired by Jean Georges of Alzheimer Europe and included presentations from Nathan Lea, Pilar Cañabate and Sébastien Libert of the EMIF, MOPEAD and RADAR-AD projects, showcasing how they have addressed ethical and legal concerns around the use of remote monitoring technologies, autonomy and information governance for big data research.  The next topic to be addressed was Regulatory & HTA assessment, in a session chaired by Diana O’Rourke of NICE. Presentations from Gill Farrer, Jacoline Bouvy and Marco Viceconti illustrated how the AMYPAD, ROADMAP and Mobilise-D IMI projects are actively engaging with European regulators, to identify pathways for approval of neuroimaging and digital biomarkers.  

Neuronet project leader Lennert Steukers closed off the 2020 Neuronet Sessions, moderating a discussion on how COVID-19 has affected large public-private partnership projects which are addressing mobility disorders, digital biomarkers, stratified medicine and dementia prevention, among other topics. Participants included Martin Hofmann-Apitius, Lynn Rochester, Jochen Prehn, Andrew Owens, Walter Maetzler and Pieter Jelle Visser, leaders of the AETIONOMY, Mobilise-D, PD-MitoQUANT, RADAR-AD, IDEA-FAST and EMIF projects. In this roundtable session, participants discussed the research challenges caused by the ongoing pandemic, and how to ensure that neurodegenerative disease research remains a priority in the post-COVID period.