The ESRS board made a 2013 priority to raise awareness about sleep topics at the European Union (EU) level, especially in view of the EU strategic research decisions for the Horizon 2020 program, now officially issued. To this aim, several actions were conducted and coordinated by the ESRS EU Committee under the direction of Roberto Amici. Although these actions were timely and successful, they also made us aware of the need to join forces with other key actors at the European level to better promote the sleep domain in research and translational areas, especially in neuroscience. This is why the ESRS board decided to join the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS). Our candidature was officially accepted at the Governing Council meeting held in Brussels in November 25-26th, where I was invited to participate. FENS, currently presided by Marian Joëls, federates 32 national neuroscience societies and 8 so-called monodisciplinary European societies including among others the European Brain and Behaviour Society (EBBS), the European Behavioural Pharmacology Society (EBPS) and the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP). It represents more than 20,000 scientists all over Europe and is an active member in the European Brain Council (EBC), which is an instrumental tool in the shaping of EU research policies and projects. The sleep domain was not yet well represented in the FENS community, and the ESRS participation is therefore an opportunity to promote our field of research (e.g. advocacy actions) and liaise across disciplines. It is therefore in the common interest of ESRS and FENS to join forces to promote research programs and initiatives.
Additionally, joining FENS provides many novel opportunities for our sleep researchers, as FENS is typically very active in the domain of teaching, organising winter and summer schools and mobility programs for PhD and young scientists on a large scale. As a reminder, ESRS organised in 2009 a Marie Curie “Training in Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine” course that was also part of the Programme of Neuroscience European Schools (PENS), which was a collaboration between the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO). Our participation in the FENS Governing Council also gives us more opportunities to advocate sleep research in Europe. And last but not least, the ESRS affiliation to FENS makes from now on all direct ESRS members full members of the FENS with all related advantages, including reduced registration fees to FENS meetings and free access to the European Journal of Neuroscience.
You will soon receive more information related to your complementary FENS membership, and I hope that you will appreciate like us the opportunity it represents for ESRS members and the sleep community.