Liam Davenport

September 12, 2016

VIENNA — The role of biomarkers in neuropsychiatric disorders will be one of the main themes of the a leading congress that will bring together up to 6000 neuroscientists, psychiatrists, neurologists, and psychologists from around the world to discuss the latest in basic and translational research.

The 29th European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) Congress, which takes place September 17–20 in Vienna, Austria, and is organized by the ECNP, will feature a range of sessions and symposia. The ECNP is an independent scientific association focused on the science and treatment of brain disorders.

Astrid Linthorst, PhD, professor of neuroscience at the University of Bristol, United Kingdom, and chair of the ECNP 2016 Scientific Program Committee, said that what she has "always liked about this congress" is that it brings together not only basic and clinical neuroscientists but also practicing psychiatrists.

"For basic scientists like myself, we learn from people seeing patients, and vice versa," she said, adding that one of the most important aspects of the congress is that participants from different disciplines cross "boundaries and barriers and try to talk to each other."

Dr Linthorst told Medscape Medical News that from the 35 scientific sessions, seven educational sessions, six plenary lectures, one keynote lecture, and 1100 posters to be presented at the meeting, three main themes emerge.

Neuropsychiatric Biomarkers

The first of these is the role of biomarkers in neuropsychiatry. On Saturday, a symposium will examine the clinical need for, and clinical application of, biomarkers in bipolar disorder. Delegates will have a chance on Tuesday to learn about the evolving role of biomarkers in the diagnosis, characterization, and personalized treatment of stress-related psychiatric disorders.

"What I think also might be really interesting for people is that we will have a symposium on Monday morning on neuroimaging biomarkers, specifically for childhood and adolescent psychiatric disease," Dr Linthorst added.

Another key theme that will be addressed in several sessions during the 4-day meeting will be that of stress-related psychiatric disorders, both in terms of how stress can cause psychiatric diseases and how it can be treated.

One example is a plenary lecture given by Elisabeth Binder, MD, PhD, director of the Department of Translational Research at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany, on Monday morning on the role of stress and adverse life events in mood and anxiety disorders.

Another session, held on Monday afternoon, will look at the genetic and epigenetic regulation of stress sensitivity and its relevance to anxiety and depression.

"We will also have a number of symposia focused on addiction, looking specifically at recreational drugs like ecstasy and cannabis, and new developments in that research," said Dr Linthorst.

This will include a symposium on Sunday morning on how psychedelic drugs can offer insights into brain function, as well as a session on Monday afternoon on the acute effects of MDMA on psychosocial processes.

"Top Paper" Session

Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the Mood Disorders Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland, will deliver a keynote lecture on mood disorders and creativity.

Kim Do, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, Lausanne University Hospital, Switzerland, will give a plenary lecture on the latest translational research in schizophrenia to take therapy and prevention beyond dopamine antagonism.

New for 2016 will be the Top Paper sessions, in which an expert will present four or five highlights from the clinical literature published during the past year.

"It's a good way of getting a quick insight into what's important in a specific field," said Dr Linthorst. "That's something we are doing for the first time in Vienna, and we hope that people find it useful.

"One other thing, which is very close to my heart but I think also for many of my colleagues, is that what we try to do with the congress is to involve some of the more junior scientists," she added.

To that end, 16 young investigators selected from the annual ECNP workshop in Nice, France, will have the opportunity to present their research as oral communications during two sessions at the main ECNP Congress.

The program will also feature small, focused brainstorming sessions organized by ECNP members, as well as career development sessions, rapid-fire poster sessions, regulator update sessions, and even patient sessions, along with the traditional symposia and lectures.

29th European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Congress (ECNP). Website


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