2020: BNA review of the year!

23rd Dec 2020

Season's Greetings from the BNA


2020: well, what a year you’ve been! You’ve shaken us, challenged and tested us, but if one thing has come through, it’s the power of the community. From fabulous NHS workers to the strong spirit of education settings through to our own amazing #neurofamily.

So, we just wanted to take a moment to reflect back on all that we’ve achieved together. Here are just some of the highlights:

JANUARY: We kicked off 2020 by announcing UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI) as our Festival Partner for the British Neuroscience Association (BNA) Festival of Neuroscience 2021. 

FEBRUARY:The BNA contributed to the important POSTnote on Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs).

MARCH: The start of Spring saw us celebrating our Year of Pain across Brain Awareness Week, with a short journey through ‘Pain’, as well as celebrating and honouring some of the great women neuroscientists to mark International Women’s Day. We held the first all-day Forum for our Local Group Representatives and Local Group Student Representatives, generously hosted by London's Sainsbury Wellcome Centre.

APRIL: It seems we were very busy!

The BNA penned an open letter to all major UK funders of neuroscience, urgently requesting costed extensions for all grants, studentships and fellowships, highlighting our concerns about the impact of the COVID19 crisis on our research community and an urgent need for support. 

We also shared a collection of community insights, sharing advice and support from students to Principal Investigators to help everyone cope with the challenges of Covid.

We responded to the sudden need to provide home-schooling by launching 'Webinars for kids', sharing the joy of neuroscience with younger brains and minds who might just be our neuroscientists of the future. 

Thanks to support from The Gatsby Foundation, we were able to appoint Joseph Clift as Head of Policy and Campaigns, leading the BNA's work on credibility and enabling us to truly 'be your voice' and advocate for neuroscience and neuroscientists. 

Plus, we were very proud to announce that the BNA journal, Brain and Neuroscience Advances, achieved indexing in PubMed Central - which meant researchers can choose a journal that promotes all aspects of credibility in neuroscience, as well as being fully visible on PubMed.

MAY: We launched our survey to help us understand what effect COVID-19 has had on current research. Plus - importantly - what support neuroscientists need as we work towards recovery. 

JUNE: The start of summer saw us release results of the above survey, raising serious concerns over the future of vital research into the nervous system and its disorders. Over 400 neuroscience researchers UK-wide responded with findings showing a significantly high number of researchers have been affected by the impact of COVID-19, with nearly a third of respondents stating they may leave neuroscience as a result.

We also rolled out a new scheme which allows new and existing BNA Full Members to give up to nine members of their research team extended subscriptions with the BNA.

JULY: We responded to an inquiry into the new UK research agency funded by the government, highlighting the potential opportunities that a UK ARPA could provide for neuroscience research.

We were also delighted to be a supporter for #BlackInNeuroWeek, when a team of neuroscientists, neuro-engineers, and science communicators celebrated and amplified Black voices in STEM.

And of course, we were proud to be the official host of the 2020 FENS Forum, albeit virtual and online, and sadly no longer in Glasgow (we missed you Glasgow!). We directly ran or participated in sessions including Credibility in Neuroscience, and Using Twitter to communicate in your science life, and we welcomed to our virtual booth to chat about a range of subjects from scientific publishing to credibility in neuroscience, to to science writing and career choices.

AUGUST: We announced the decision to hold the BNA2021 Festival of Neuroscience online in response to COVID19 -related uncertainty. But we also were delighted to be able to extend the reach of the Festival and increase its inclusivity by taking it online. We were also delighted to confirm The Lundbeck Foundation as supporters. We also welcomed Hannah Thurgur to the BNA executive team. 

SEPTEMBER: The BNA and the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre ran a free discussion event, 'When industry meets academia', featuring Sir Mene Pangalos, officially launching the BNA’s strategic drive for ‘Building Bridges Between: Industry and Academia’.

We also submitted nominations of individuals who can fill gaps in expertise for sub-panel 4, Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience (UOA4) for the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF).

OCTOBER: We were very proud to see the BNA journal, Brain and Neuroscience Advances, publish its first Registered Report, marking another milestone in the BNA's commitment to supporting 'Credibility in Neuroscience'. 

NOVEMBER: We expressed concern about the recent announcement from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) describing only limited support for PhD students impacted by COVID19 and called out to all researchers to hear about the support they need during this challenging time.

We were also pleased to welcome Scientifica and Miltenyi Biotec as sponsors of a year-round programme of events and opportunities at the BNA, including BNA2021 Festival of Neuroscience.

DECEMBER: We brought the year to a close with a fabulous online Festive Symposium which launched 2021 as the Year of Ageing, with the title, 'The Seven Ages of hu(man)'. We welcomed a fantastic line-up of speakers to take us through the 'seven ages' and you can catch up with some of their talks here. Plus, one of the talks - Rik Henson's "Mid-life activities are important for late-life cognition" - was featured on Radio 4’s ‘All in the Mind' programme on 22nd Dec!

We also proudly announced the BNA 2020 prizes including awards to Karen Duff and Matt Eagles, and to students Tahnee Mackensen and Alexander Bates.

And finally, we waved goodbye to 2020, and are looking forward with hope to everything that 2021 will bring for the BNA, our members, and our wider community. 

2020 and 2021 wallplanners

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