10th Jul 2024

At the end of June, Vienna welcomed nearly 8,000 neuroscientists to the 2024 Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) Forum. The BNA team were particularly excited to see so many BNA members speaking and presenting at this year’s forum including Katie Birditt (Brain Insights editor and winner of the 2023 BNA Undergraduate Award) and Francesco Gobbo (winner of BNA2023 Pre-registration ECR Poster Prize), as well as several past and present members of our Council and Committee.

The Forum’s thoughtfully produced programme was a sight to behold. From Tuesday evening’s Viennese operatic opening ceremony and the cast of incredible plenary speakers to the expansive range of parallel symposia and special interest events, from the offset attendees were thrust into a living environment of world-leading science among friends and fellow-travellers.

Indeed, the main body of the scientific programme launched with a bang early on Wednesday morning, with a beautiful, thought-provoking plenary lecture from Prof. Onur Güntürkün on the possibly endothermy-driven evolution of complex cognition in birds and mammals, and it didn’t slow down until the Forum closed.

Later that day, we set up at the Forum’s dedicated member organisations’ area (pictured above), where BNA members were then able to meet and represent our association, speaking with other visitors from the UK neuroscience community about the importance of being part of this vibrant organisation.

Posters as far as the eye can see

It is always brilliant to see the incredible breadth of novel neuroscience research across a conference’s poster sessions, and the FENS Forum’s mammoth poster hall was no exception. A record number of BNA members (165) presented their posters this year: BNA Member Rachel Grasmeder Allen commented, “It was amazing to have so many people interested in what I do.” The fact that so many of our fellow BNA members had been selected to showcase their innovative emerging research at Europe’s most significant neuroscience event was a sign that our organisation is one to be proud of.

Particular poster highlights from our community included BNA President Tara Spires-Jones' on “Synaptic Gene Expression Changes in Frontotemporal Dementia Due to the MAPT 10+16 Mutation”, Oxford BNA Local Group Student Representative Demi Brizee’s on “Electrophysiological Description of CA1 Radiatum/Lacunosum-Moleculare Interneurons” and UCL BNA Local Group Student Representative Emre Yavuz’s on “Using Minecraft to Investigate the Neurobiological Mechanisms of Human Hunting Behaviour”.

BNA President-Elect receives diversity prize

We are thrilled that our President-Elect, Prof. Narender Ramnani has been recognised for his work to champion diversity and inclusion in neuroscience and has been awarded the 2024 ALBA-FKNE Diversity Prize. Narender was presented with this prestigious award at a dedicated ceremony on the closing day of the Forum.

BNA Scholars join the programme

The BNA Scholars Programme, now in its fourth year, was able to bring an entire cohort of Scholars to Vienna. Three Scholars – Faissal Sharif, Laura Odemwingie and Dipa Begum – even seized the opportunity to present their research to international audiences in poster sessions.

The BNA is also pleased to have enabled some members to attend the FENS Forum thanks to our travel bursaries. BNA Member Nazia Jassim commented: “Grateful to be here in Vienna thanks to travel grants by the BNA and Guarantors of Brain”.

Networking at the members’ social evening

Like all good science meetings, the socialising was just as important as the research. The evening reception at the exclusive sky bar of Das Loft gave us the chance to chat with old friends as well as make new connections, and no doubt that was one of the reasons why the joint BNA–Neuroscience Ireland–Cambridge Neuroscience–Gatsby Foundation social was so well-attended (and, indeed, over-subscribed).

A selection of photos from the joint BNA–Cambridge Neuroscience–Neuroscience Ireland–Gatsby Foundation social, held at Das Loft with 360-degree views of Vienna’s beautiful cityscape.  

The FENS Forum in Vienna was a jam-packed, vibrant collective of world-class neuroscience, and looking ahead we are delighted to announce that the BNA will be the host society for the FENS Forum 2028 which will take place in the wonderful city of Glasgow. We are so excited to finally have the opportunity to bring  international neuroscience to the UK stage.

The  International BNA2025 Festival of Neuroscience is the next big chance to meet up with your neuroscience friends, colleagues and fellow BNA members from around the world – and it's now only nine months away. We look forward to welcoming you to the International BNA2025 Festival of Neuroscience in Liverpool!

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