Always Learning

The Swiss Society for Neuroscience prepares for the challenges and opportunities ahead. The new president-elect of the Society, Prof. Valerio Mante of the Institute of Neuroinformatics, explains what is to come.

Since its inception in 1997, the Swiss Society for Neuroscience (SSN) brings together scientists and clinicians from all across Switzerland. The origins of the SSN trace back to Zurich, as it was initiated through the efforts of Prof. Volker Henn, former chairman of the Department of Neurology in Zurich. Presently, Prof. Andreas Luft and I represent Zurich’s neuroscience community in the SSN council.
A key focus of the SSN is to provide support and visibility to PhD students and Postdocs. Support for travel can be requested four times per year, and prizes for best publications and posters are awarded at each Annual Meeting of the SSN. Run by a dynamic group of PhD students and Postdocs, the young SSN is making great strides in offering young neuroscientists a dedicated platform for exchange and professional development – in the form of meetings, retreats, and excursions.

Our annual meeting, which members can attend for free, remains the focal point of our activities. Future years will see us explore new formats for the meeting, to find more effective ways for young members to get exposure and feedback. We expect that local, low carbon-footprint gatherings like the annual meeting will only gain in relevance in coming years. With a redesigned website, regular newsletters, and an increased presence in social media, we further aim to inform and interact with the community in the times between meetings.
Upcoming votes on the abolition of animal and human experiments across Switzerland and on the introduction of basic rights for primates in Basel, both expected as early as in the fall, are just two of several political initiatives in the works that could negatively affect our ability to do research. The SSN is a respected source of information on these topics, and we will continue to expand the related content on our website, but also reach out directly to politicians. In addition, we will continue to support the Swiss-wide Brain Awareness Week, which like no other outreach event can excite the broader public about neuroscience research. None of these efforts would be possible without our members. Our only steady source of income are the yearly membership contributions, which we use entirely towards the above initiatives. Even more importantly, our weight in the public discourse comes, in no small part, from our membership numbers. Because all members of the SSN automatically become members of FENS, the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies, our numbers also directly contribute to strengthening the voice of neuroscience in shaping European policy.
If you are not yet a member, consider becoming one, and help us grow and shape our community with your excellent science, ideas, and initiative.

Photograph courtesy of Judith Reinhard, Rüegg Group, Biozentrum, University of Basel