Exporting Insights— London Neuroscience Forum

Combating neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis are proving to be some of the greatest challenges in modern medicine.

While some key strides have been made in our understanding of these diseases in recent years, the path to new, disease-modifying treatments has been stubbornly elusive.

Many questions remain unanswered while the need for new diagnostics, therapeutics and care models continues to increase.

With this growing burden comes the need for new approaches to research and drug development.

There is interest and a pressing demand for novel partnership models that bring together global leaders from industry, academia, government and patient organizations around a common goal.

Building on the success of Partners HealthCare’s annual flagship Forums in Boston, the upcoming March 27 World Neuroscience Innovation Forum in London will be a one-day event designed to address these challenges by convening 400 of the top neuroscience leaders in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States.

Rudy Tanzi, PhD, an internationally recognized Alzheimer’s researcher, Vice-Chair of Neurology and Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, says the Forum will provide a unique opportunity to debate ideas, rather than simply presenting data. “You get the pros and cons, the points of views, the strengths and weaknesses. You get the agreements and also some disagreements.”

Tanzi, who co-chaired the Boston-based Forum in 2015, says the time is right to convene again. “Over the past two years, the research landscape has changed dramatically with new imaging technologies, biomarkers and treatment strategies to consider and the mixed results of several high profile clinical trials. It’s going to be a very different discussion.”

Dennis Selkoe, MD, Co-Director of the Ann Romney Center for Neurological Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and The Vincent and Stella Coates Professor of Neurologic Diseases, Harvard Medical School has been studying neurodegenerative disease for over 30 years and has firsthand knowledge of the challenges of identifying treatment targets. “You need a detailed understanding of the disease mechanism to create treatments.”

Tanzi and Selkoe are among the keynote speakers at the Forum, which will be held on March 27, 2017 at the Francis Crick Institute in London. The objectives of the Forum are to:

  • Profile the latest strategies and innovative thinking in neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory disease therapies and interventions
  • Seed and develop world-class international science teams dedicated to creating high-impact research and commercial initiatives
  • Launch the inaugural Springboard Challenge to form new commercially-focused teams to accelerate neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory technologies
  • Increase interactions among top neuroscience investigators, investors, entrepreneurs, corporate leaders, philanthropists and government executives across the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States

Biogen, Lilly, Pfizer, GSK, Janssen Pharmaceutical, MedCity, Atlas Ventures, and the Dementia Discovery Fund are among the entities helping to organize the Forum and to ensure that it starts a new chapter of collaboration and commercial neuroscience outcomes.

In addition to C-Suite speakers, world-class neuroscience researchers from Partners’ Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and representatives from government and venture capital will speak at the event.

Panel discussions at the Forum will tackle some of the top questions in neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory research, such as investment priorities for new therapeutics, the impact of immunity-focused research, the potential of gene and cell-based therapies, the impact of digital health technologies, and new models for conducting clinical trials.

The Forum will mark the launch of the Springboard Challenge, a call for proposals for multiple awards designed to form new international, multisector neuroscience teams that will develop technologies and systems that will drive the future of patient treatment and care.

The teams created by the Springboard Challenge will have the opportunity to seek further multi-year support from the Forum’s industry sponsors and targeted government organizations, NGOs, foundations and related entities. The Forum’s selection committee will make award selections in the summer.

To learn more about the World Neuroscience Innovation Forum and to register for the event, please visit www.neuroscienceinnovationforum.org.


  • David Mayhew, CBE, UK Dementia Envoy; Chairman, Alzheimer’s Research UK
  • Michael Ehlers, MD, PhD, EVP, Head of R&D, Biogen
  • Lord David Prior, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, Department of Health
  • John Lechleiter, PhD, Chairman, Eli Lilly and Company
  • Alfred Sandrock, MD, PhD, EVP, Chief Medical Officer, Head, Development and Worldwide Medical, Biogen
  • Reisa Sperling, MD, Director, Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School