Executive Director, European Brain Council
Collaboration and engagement within the brain community is needed to foster investment in innovation and address the growing burden in brain disorders.
The brain is undoubtedly the most important organ in the human body, as it controls all aspects of our lives. There is no health without brain health. However, the brain remains one of the most mysterious organs.
The beauty and burdens of the brain
Recent studies on the Global Burden of Disease1 showed that neurological disorders were the leading cause of disability-adjusted life years globally and the second cause of deaths after cardiovascular diseases2. In comparison to other non-communicable diseases, brain disorders constitute the most burdensome disease group. The growing number of citizens being diagnosed with brain conditions makes it clear that this burden will not change its course.
The value of innovation
It is estimated that brain disorders account for up to 45% of total healthcare budgets and this burden grows with the ageing population. Yet, compared to other disease areas, the pace of innovation in this field has traditionally been hindered by multiple factors, starting with the complexity of the brain itself.
Innovation in the brain space is crucial. Despite considerable advances in basic neuroscience, our understanding of the brain’s function and the mechanisms behind brain disorders remains limited.
Failure rates in drug development are higher in neuroscience than in other areas and new treatments often take longer to reach the market than in other disease areas. We are still striving to find cures or truly effective means of delaying or reducing the burdens placed on individuals and society by brain disorders.
Recent studies on the Global Burden of Disease showed that neurological disorders were the leading cause of disability-adjusted life years globally.
Collaboration is the key
The complexity of brain disorders is a testament to the need for a multi-stakeholder approach to tackling them. Collaboration and engagement within the brain community are needed to create an enabling environment to foster investment in innovation and to remove existing barriers.
The launch of the Brain Innovation Days3 is the answer from the brain community to address these urgent needs for investment in innovation and fostering collaboration in the brain ecosystem.
We need to disrupt and rewire; we need to turn the research and innovation process in neuroscience around. We need to invest in the future of citizens before we reach a burden we can no longer fix. One innovation at a time, we can create a better future without the burden of brain disorders.
1 GBD 2015 Neurological Disorders Collaborator Group. Global, regional, and national burden of neurological disorders during 1990–2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. Lancet Neurol 2017; 16: 877–97.