Brain Talks

Brain Talks is a podcast produced by Brain Innovation Days, featuring key opinion leaders and stakeholders from the ever-growing brain ecosystem, discussing the latest breakthroughs, ongoing research and other exciting topics related to brain innovation.

S3E6. Unlocking Europe’s Brain Potential: Prioritizing Research & Innovation in the 21st Century

The Covid-19 pandemic shed a crude light on how instrumental research and innovation are in the European Union. This crisis revealed significant disparities and fractures between Member States. More importantly, patients living with neurological or mental disorders were heavily impacted by the pandemic, and faced tremendous challenges to maintain their access to care and to meet their medical needs.

In this episode, Frédéric Destrebecq, Executive Director of the European Brain Council, Christian Suojanen, Founder & CEO of Broadreach Global, and Professor Michel Goldman, renowned medical doctor and researcher, discuss the post-pandemic European landscape, and address the major challenges and opportunities for brain research and innovation in the EU.

From fostering a collaborative climate within the wider brain community to an ambitious European Brain Research and Innovation Plan, join our journey on what it takes to make brain research and innovation a European priority for the 21st century.

S3E5. How the Environment Influences Brain Health

This Brain Talks episode on Urban Environment and Brain Health features two projects on brain health, funded by the European Union under the same main programme (H2020-EU.3.1. – SOCIETAL CHALLENGES – Health, demographic change and well-being): BRAINTEASER and eMOTIONAL Cities.

Evidence shows that environmental factors may influence both the aetiology and the progression of a number of brain conditions. Through cost-effective sensors and apps, a comprehensive analysis of clinical, lifestyle and environmental data and predictive/preventive AI models for patient stratification and disease progression, BRAINTEASER aims to better inform people living with MS and ALS and support clinical decision making in 4 urban areas: Madrid, Turin, Lisbon and Pavia.

Urban living is associated to an increase in mood and anxiety disorders, drugs addiction and risk of schizophrenia and psychosis. Through urban stress research, emotional mapping, urban prevention and therapy research, eMOTIONAL Cities aims to explore how urban planning and design could positively impact brain health in 4 cities: Lisbon, Copenhagen, London and Lansing.

S3E4. Migraine: Bridging the Gap in European Health Policy

Despite the burden, migraine is not consistently recognized in health policy. However, countries are making progress and establishing a way forward for patients.

In the latest Brain Talks episode, Sam Pauly sat down with Dawn Carlson, AbbVie’s Vice-President of Neuroscience Clinical Development, and Alessandra Sorrentino, migraine patient and representative of Alleanza Cefalalgici, to discuss promising developments in migraine care, management, and policy prioritization.

This episode was recorded in partnership with AbbVie.

S3E3. Prioritizing Meaningful Patient Engagement in Mental Health

In this third episode of Brain Talks | Season 3, Alice Medialia (Columbia University), Péter Kéri (GAMIAN-Europe), and John Saunders (EUFAMI) sat down with Sam Pauly to share some thoughts and advices on how to ensure the meaningful engagement of patients with lived experiences of mental health conditions.

In partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim, this episode was recorded live from the third edition of the Brain Innovation Days

S3E2. Merck’s Approach to Multiple Sclerosis Care

Join us for the second episode of this new season of Brain Talks, where Dimitrios Georgiopoulos, Global Business Franchise Head for Neurology and Immunology at Merck Healthcare, delves into the world of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) care.

Discover Merck’s patient-centered approach and explore the challenges and opportunities for young people living with MS in the EU. With 2.9 million people affected, this is a conversation that impacts us all.

S3E1. Unveiling the Brain Innovation Days: Connecting Minds to Shape the Future

Brain Talks are back for a third season! Join us in unveiling the highly anticipated 2023 edition of the Brain Innovation Days with Prof. Suzanne Dickson, President of the European Brain Council, and Frédéric Destrebecq, Executive Director of EBC.

S2E8. EANS Research Fund: Facilitating neurosurgical research across Europe

Tune in to the new podcast episode to hear Sam Pauly talk with two expert guests Professor Asgeir Jakola, Director of the European Association of Neurosurgical Societies (EANS) Research Fund & Dr Victor Staartjes, a neurosurgery resident at the University Hospital Zurich. They look at how the EANS Research Fund facilitates neurosurgical research across Europe.

S2E7. Technology in Neurosurgery

In this Brain Talk we’ll be looking at the role technology currently plays in neurosurgery. We are joined by Dr Pieter Kubben, a neurosurgeon at Maastricht University Medical Center and the founder of the Neuromind App and Dr. Marike Broekman, a neurosurgeon in the Department of Neurosurgery at Leiden University Medical Center. She is the first female board member of the European Association of Neurosurgical Associations or EANS, and her main clinical and research interests focus on Neuro-Oncology and Ethics.

S2E6. Nothing about us without us: patient-led policy and advocacy

We’re back from our summer break and our host, Sam Pauly, is delighted to be joined today by Dr Orla Galvin, Executive Director of the European Federation of Neurological Associations (EFNA) to discuss the important role patients play in guiding policy and leading advocacy in the brain space, particularly as the “experts” in their own brain conditions. A common phrase in the community always is, “nothing about us without us”, a strong call to decision-makers to ensure that the people most affected by their decisions are involved from the beginning.Accompanied by Dr Elke De Witte, Head of Project Development at the European Brain Council, Sam explores the importance of patient involvement in policy and advocacy, the challenges and roadblocks faced to do so (and how to overcome them) and innovative approaches for improvement at present and in the future.

S2E5. Advancing neuroscience across Africa


We turn the spotlight to neuroscience in Africa and discuss with leading researchers from the region how the African neuroscience community has come together to identify challenges and opportunities in the region, explore possible solutions, and discover unique and important avenues for research.

S2E4. How neuron activity shapes the plasticity of the brain


Our host Sam Pauly speaks with a recent recipient of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) European Journal of Neuroscience (EJN) Young Investigator Prize, awarded to early-career researchers in recognition of their outstanding scientific contributions to any area of neuroscience.

S2E3. The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on mental health services

We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has had repercussions far and wide, but what impact has it had on Mental Health Services and what work can be done to address some of those needs? That’s exactly what the Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks-Europe (GAMIAN-Europe) has been researching through a focused survey. The report has just been released and here to tell us more about the findings we invited, Nigel Olisa, Executive Director of GAMIAN-Europe, and Chiara Samele, Director of Informed Thinking with over 20 years of experience in mental health research.

S2E2. Identifying a rare neurological condition in children through innovative approaches

Today we’ll be looking at pioneering work that was recently recognised by the European Paediatric Neurology Society (EPNS) and awarded an EPNS Research Prize. Beta-propeller protein-associated neurodegeneration, commonly known as BPAN, is a rare, progressive and life-limiting neurological disorder beginning in infancy or early childhood. Dr Apostolos Papandreou, from University College London, is leading research into treatments for the disorder which could also have positive implications on more common disorders as well. To tell us more, we welcome in this episode also Dr Jean-Pierre Lin, EPNS Board Member and President of the British Paediatric Neurology Association.

S2E1. Advances in imaging for children with neuromuscular disorders

The new season of Brain Talks focuses on Brain in the Life Course, kicking off with a focus on pediatric neurology. We are joined by guest Dr David Gómez-Andrés, a specialist in Child Neurology at the University Hospital of Vall d’Hebron in Barcelona and part of the European Paediatric Neurology Society (EPNS), a society for physicians with a research or clinical interest in Paediatric Neurology. Dr Gómez-Andrés was awarded the 2021 EPNS Research Prize by the Neuromuscular Working Group for his work on ‘Pattern Recognition Muscle MRI in Early Onset Muscle Disorders: From Previous Works to Future Plans’. 

We were pleased to also welcome Professor Thomas Sejersen, a senior consultant and lecturer at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm and a Board Member of the EPNS, as a co-discussant.

16. Are brain-machine interfaces the key to a cure?

In today’s Brain Talk, we are joined by Professor Juan Lerma, Editor-in-Chief of Neuroscience and Professor at the Alicante Neuroscience Insitute. We discuss a number of exciting, current topics within neuroscience, including brain computer interfaces, brain implant devices and the example of the mainstream news of Elon Musk’s Neuralink. 

Prof Lerma recently wrote a comment on the Neuralink announcement in Neuroscience, the flagship journal of IBRO: 

15. Current and future challenges for researchers in times of COVID-19

In today’s Brain Talk we welcome back another speaker from our latest Brain Innovation Days Digital Session on 27 April, “Fast-Tracking Brain Innovation in Times of COVID-19” —  Dr Tomás Ryan, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at the University at Trinity College Dublin and Chair of the FENS-Kavli Network of Excellence. 

During the last event, Tomás provided concluding remarks, sharing the perspective of an early to mid-career fundamental neuroscience researcher, touching on how the scientific community is going to respond to the pandemic in terms of European brain health and brain research and the central issue of harmonization and collaboration in research. COVID-19 brought most fundamental research to a halt last year, which had huge impact at all levels, as everything we are able to do within neurology and psychiatry comes from basic research. Today’s podcast elaborates further on these topics of discussion.

14. vCreate Neuro: improving clinical care through Secure Video technology

vCreate Neuro is an NHS Trusted secure video messaging service that helps patients, families and clinical teams stay connected throughout their care journey.

Used in over 150 units globally, the vCreate service has so far helped support more than 20,000 families with separation anxiety, clinical diagnoses and care management.

We discuss the aims and the importance of this platform with Prof Sameer Zuberi, President of the European Paediatric Neurology Society (EPNS) and Clinical Lead of vCreate Neuro.

For more information on vCreate Neuro, visit:


13. Keeping Europe at the forefront of health innovation

We speak with Padraic Ward, Head of Roche Pharma International, this week on Brain Talks, exploring healthcare innovation in Europe and how we can ensure Europe keeps its edge in healthcare as we watch Europe falling behind the US and a strongly growing and committed China over the past several years. This erosion of leadership applies to innovation, investment, and equal access to healthcare innovation for patients in the region. What needs to be done to make sure Europe stays a driver of innovation? 

Furthermore, The pandemic has been a shock to the economic and healthcare systems around the globe. That said, it also shown how fast policy makers and industry can jointly move to fight the pandemic. What can we learn from the current crisis for the future of healthcare in Europe?

12. The impact of COVID-19 on the mental health community

There is a wide consensus that the COVID-19 pandemic not only affects physical health, but also mental health and well-being. The current pandemic is changing priorities for the general population, but it is also challenging the agenda of health professionals, including that of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals.

Everywhere in the world, psychiatric clinics are modifying their practice in order to guarantee care and support to persons with mental health problems, but also to those who are not mentally ill and are suffering from the psychosocial consequences of the pandemic.

We discuss with Prof Peter Falkai, President of the European Psychiatric Association, on the shifts that needed to be made within the mental health community and what we can potentially expect for the future.

11. The rise of telemedicine and teleneurology

Telemedicine is not a new invention but played a key role in the months of isolation during the pandemic. For many patients, it was the only way to continue their treatment and stay in touch with their doctors. The growth of telemedicine has been evident, but what will be left once people return to normal life? We discuss this with Professor Paul Boon, President Elect of the European Academy of Neurology.


10. Overtime: The story of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the brain

More and more studies are showing that COVID-19 also has long-term effects on the brain.

With Matilde Leonardi, Director of the Italian WHO-Collaborating Centre Research Branch “IRCCS Istituto Neurologico C. Besta”, we take a look at the main points of the story that led researchers to identify the connections between the pandemic and its effects on the brain.

The discussion elaborates on the talk Matilde Leonardi had during the Brain Innovation Days digital event held in April 2021. 


9. icompanion: monitoring MS from your smartphone

The first-ever Brain Innovation Days Pitch Competition took place during the 2nd digital session held on 26 January 2021.

The audience was invited to vote on a winner for Brain Innovation Public Award for Best Pitch and this was rewarded to icompanion after over 1000 votes.icompanion is a free app and web platform that helps people living with multiple sclerosis monitoring their condition.

The main goal of icompanion is to give patients with MS and their treating neurologists more insight into the patient’s disease course by providing an overview of the subclinical (visible on MRI), clinical and self-reported disease activity and comparing it with other patients.

8. PIPRA’s Mission: leveraging AI and big data to support pre- and post-op assessment

During the digital event on 26 January 2021, Brain Innovation Days organised a pitch competition. PIPRA won the 1st Brain Innovation Jury Award for Best Pitch and today they tell us more about their work and their goals.

PIPRA’s mission is to leverage cutting-edge AI and big data to provide clinicians with a reliable pre-op tool to assess patients’ risk of presenting a Post-Operative Delirium (POD) and a Post-Operative Cognitive Decline (POCD).


7. NeuroTech Europe: Connecting stakeholders with the world of brain research

NeuroTech Europe is a newly born project that would promote the interest of association members towards EU institutions (EU Commission, DG Research & Innovation, EU parliament) and the permanent representations of key EU member states. It aims to shape the research agenda, specifically increasing the number of calls related to neurotechnologies.In this conversation, Sebastian Haesler, creator of NeuroTech Europe, explains to us the goals and the purposes of the initiative.


6. The burden of neurological diseases in Europe

Today the Brain Talks go back to basics: what is the driving force behind the need and creation of the Brain Innovation Days? At some point of their life, one in three Europeans will live with a brain disease – neurological and mental alike. As a result, the estimations are that brain disorders account for up to 45% of total healthcare budgets. This burden is expected to grow.We speak with Prof. Günther Deuschl, Professor of Neurology at Christian-Albrechts-Universität in Kiel, Germany and former President of the European Academy of Neurology (2014-2018) to address the immense burden carried by neurological diseases, both in Europe and worldwide.How much do these diseases affect the health of European citizens? Are all Member States dealing with this emergency in the same way? These are some of the issues we address in this episode.The data reflected on in this podcast is based on the recent study in the Lancet Neurology, “The burden of neurological diseases in Europe: an analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017”


5. Overtime: a deep dive into the European Medicines Agency

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is a decentralised agency of the European Union (EU) responsible for the scientific evaluation, supervision and safety monitoring of medicines in the EU.

The European Medicines Agency plays an important role in the innovation and availability of medicines for human and veterinary use through its support to research activities within the European Union (EU) and beyond. What is the role the EMA can play in facilitating innovation in brain research? Florence Butlen, Senior Scientific Officer at the EMA, Fabio Blandini, IBRO-PERC Chair, and Patrice Boyer, EBC Vice President, continue the discussion started at the Brain Innovation Days launch event in October 2020.

4. Helpilepsy: the app that helps people living with epilepsy

Helpilepsy enables better patient outcomes and improves care efficiency by registering seizures, side effects and medication online.Ludovic Ampe, Co-Founder & Strategic Growth Lead, explains the advantages that both patients and neurologists can gain from it.

3. Creating a successful start-up in Medtech: the story of Brain+

Brain+ provides digital therapeutics for brain rehabilitation and remediation, specifically for the recovery of impaired cognitive functions due to injury or disease – combining neuro-games and digital behavioural therapy into powerful treatment solutions.It’s award winning Brain+ apps are being clinically tested in Parkinson’s disease, Major depressive disorder and Traumatic brain injury patients, and is being used by Danish national team athletes to enhance cognitive performance. Brain+ is also working on pre-symptomatic detection of Alzheimer’s disease in collaboration with leading European universities, providers, and patient organizations.Kim Baden-Kristensen, CEO and Co-founder, tells us the story of this successful, innovative company.

2. Overtime: Discussion with Pierre Meulien, Executive Director, Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI)
Pierre Meulien, Executive Director of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) was one of the panelists at the Digital Launch of the Brain Innovation Days on 13 October 2020. With questions coming in from the audience and an exciting line-up of speakers, time flew by and the riveting discussion could have lasted hours! Join us now for an Overtime discussion with Pierre to explore the details and questions left unasked during the launch event.

The IMI is a public-private partnership aiming to speed up the development of better and safer medicines for patients. 
1. The Start of the Journey – What are the Brain Innovation Days?
Prof Monica Di Luca, President of European Brain Council, presents the first episode of Brain Talks, the podcast launched by Brain Innovation Days.