Build bridges across neuroscience

bridge across river

From academia to industry to clincial applications and beyond, coming to BNA2023 will help you build bridges and make connections across the whole neuroscience sector.

How do we work together to ensure we don’t just stay in our ‘lanes’? What really is best practice when developing new drugs? How can we share information to save time and money?

We will be welcoming networks from across the breadth of the sector, from academic colleagues to industry collaborators, as part of the BNA’s Building Bridges Between: Industry & Academia (BBB) ongoing commitment to help bridge the gap between fundamental discovery neuroscience, applied research and businesses active in the sector.

At BNA2023 there we will be 23 Partnering Organisations taking part, headed up by host organisation the BNA and Festival Partner Parkinson's UK, with special partner the Guarantors of Brain and a wealth of over 60 sponsors and exhibitors including:

  • Mental health care company COMPASS Pathways researching how psilocybin therapy can help people with treatment resistant depression,
  • Medical research charity Life Arc advancing the translation of early science along the path to healthcare treatments or diagnostics
  • Discovery Park Neuroscience hub, a healthcare innovation and collaboration world leading science park
  • Artificial intelligence data company Arca Blanca
  • NC3Rs - pioneers better science through advancing the 3Rs in research.
  • European alliance, CURE-ND, formed to tackle urgent challenge of neurodegenerative diseases

Building Bridges Between: Industry & Academia at BNA2023

Monday 24th April 15:30 - 17:10 BST

WORKSHOP: Building Bridges Between: Impactful hypotheses in translational psychiatric neuroscience: a critical appraisal (full information)
Supported by Discovery Park Neuroscience Hub
Alan Palmer, Elixa MediScience, UK: (co-chair)
Ekta Patel, The Psychiatry Consortium, UK: (co-chair)
Robin Murray, King's College London, UK: The dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia
Rachel Gurrell, Cerevel Therapeutics, UK: The GABAA receptor hypothesis of anxiety
Phil Cowen, Oxford University, UK: The serotonergic hypothesis of depression
David Nutt, Drug Science, UK: The dysregulated brain circuit hypothesis of conditions associated with impaired mental health: the pivotal role for psychedelic drugs

Chaired by entrepreneur and longstanding BNA Committee member Professor Alan Palmer, this workshop will consider how the current modern drug discovery process is at odds with the origin of nearly all the drugs used in psychiatry today. The session will critically appraise four* key impactful hypotheses in translational psychiatric neuroscience.

This workshop brings together leading lights from across the sector: Robin Murray (Kings College, London), Rachel Gurrell (Cerevel Therapeutics), Phil Cowen (Oxford University), Carol Routledge (Small Pharma). There will be plenty of time for a lively debate at the end of the workshop presentations, with Ekta Patel (The Psychiatry Consortium) co-chairing the panel discussion.

Attending this workshop will deepen your understanding of the drug discovery process, and consider what good translation looks like. We will assess the hypotheses in terms of both stimulating neuroscience research and, most importantly, developing new medicines. The workshop will also consider the re-emergence of psychedelic drugs, such as psilocybin, ketamine and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (‘ecstasy’), as treatments for psychiatric conditions, particularly when used in conjunction with psychotherapy.

The prospect for future medicines research to address the unmet therapeutic needs of people living with mental health conditions will also be considered

Furthermore, this workshop shows the importance of representing views from ‘both camps’ bringing people together to create a truly collaborative neuroscience community.  We’ll consider why there is often a lack of transparency, born from a fear of one company being scooped up by another, and look at the responsibility on academia and industry to maximise use of resources by avoiding unnecessary duplication of efforts, while also helping to ensure reproducibility of research.

* The dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia; The GABAA receptor hypothesis of anxiety; The serotonergic hypothesis of depression; The dysregulated brain circuit hypothesis of conditions associated with impaired mental health: the pivotal role for psychedelic drugs


Credibility in Neuroscience poster prizes - NEW for BNA2023!

The BNA’s Building Bridges Between: Industry & Academia (BBB) programme of work is connected to the BNA’s Credibility in Neuroscience initiative, helping to increasing transparency and usefulness of research. We can improve this from the outset by being open with expectation about IP and publication at the very beginning. Researchers should make data as open as possible, utilising tools such as e-lab notebook to build credibility in the work.

We'll be giving prizes for the best 'Credibility in neuroscience' posters at the conference, so if you're looking to get recognition on your work and get noticed by some of the top scientists in your field, this is the place to be!

Pre-registration posters 

Pioneered at the BNA2019 Festival of Neuroscience (see report published in Nature Human Behaviour), and now adopted by an increasing number of organisations worldwide, pre-reg posters allow presenters to discuss their plans for research instead of the results, meaning that:

  • presenters get help and feedback at a stage when it's still useful: In contrast to 'traditional' posters, when feedback is given after experiments have been carried out, presenters of pre-reg posters are able to modify their plans based on advice received at the conference and improve the overall quality of their research.
  • presenters can practice 'slow science' instead of rushing to get results for their poster.  We believe that science should be slow - but not simply that it takes longer! 'Slow science' gives us time to think about our choices, check we're doing the best science possible, and make sure we get robust, reliable and reproducible results.
  • presenters have the chance to form collaborations. By sharing ideas and plans at an early stage, there's the chance for presenters to collaborate with other researchers and potentially increase the data collected and power of their results.


Want to get involved beyond the festival?


Building collaborations is at the heart of our work, enabling information exchange across the sector. Our BBB partnerships support many important BNA schemes such as the BNA's Scholarship Programme which helps to increase Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in neuroscience.

Please have a look at the main aims of BBB and get in touch with Sophie Jerrold ([email protected], BNA Development Director) to begin to explore how we can work together.

The BBB initiative aims to:

  • Support all members of the neuroscience community and career development for academic members crossing over into industry, and vice versa.
  • Enhance information sharing across neuroscience sectors, increasing credibility and improving translation and research efficiency.
  • Promote the neuroscience community holistically, ensuring all sectors are represented.
  • Engage with industry experts already practicing 'Credibility' in their work to contribute to our work in this area, inviting information exchange between industry and academia. Please see our Tools for Improving Translation page.
  • Connect Industry partners to world leading experts in all fields of neuroscience to support specific areas of interest. To find out more a great example is our Building Bridges along the Psychiatric Drug Discovery Pipeline webinar series 
  • Improve recognition of the role that businesses play in the advancement of neuroscience in the UK and its societal benefit. Find details about our successful neuroscience collaborations
  • Help Industry partners to attract and support the next generation of neuroscientists as prospective employees, and demonstrate the transferability of science. Find out more information about our Scholars Programme, our work to increase EDI, and how you can get involved.


Not yet a member of the BNA? 

If you're not familiar with the BNA, here's who we are: the British Neuroscience Association is an organisation that represents and promotes all of neuroscience in the UK.

It's made up of people from across different disciplines, career stages and sectors - academia, industry, the clinic and beyond - all of whom are passionate about the science of the brain and nervous system.