Of Mind and (sub-atomic) Matter

There are medics in the Main Building: neuroscientists, neurosurgeons and psychiatrists to name but a few. In short, more doctors than most of us have ever seen outside of a university or a hospital. Not a typical scene for a laboratory focusing on physics rather than physiology, but one that became common during the two-day European Brain Council Meeting held at CERN this June.


“CERN’s collaborative, multicultural research environment is an extraordinary source of inspiration for the scientific community,” says Mary Baker, President of the European Brain Council (EBC). “It was the reason why we chose to hold our first Management meeting for ‘Age of the Brain’.  It was a wonderful opportunity for us and a great privilege to be invited.”

Established in 2002, the European Brain Council seeks to improve the management of brain diseases by promoting research in Europe, and also to improve the quality of life of patients and their families. To do this, it brings together the entire brain community, including European organisations in neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry and neuroscience, as well as patient organisations and industry.

“Along with promoting research, one of our primary aims is to encourage dialogue between scientists and society – it is in this area where we may be able to collaborate with CERN,” explains Mary. “Knowledge being acquired can feed into the health systems, whether through hadrontherapy or medical accelerators. How can we help get this information to clinicians, to let them know what is coming down the line and what they should be fighting for? And later on, how do we help prepare society for the great role science is playing in our civilisation? And with the economic constraints the world is facing, how do we defend scientific studies? When you’ve got these sorts of situations to face, it is going to be the brain that drives us out. And there’s a lot of brain here at CERN.”

Along with their management meeting, EBC members enjoyed a full day’s programme centred on CERN and its activities. On the itinerary: an introductory lecture to CERN, a visit of the CMS control room and experiment cavern, a descent into the LHC tunnel, and a light lunch with Rolf Heuer, Joe Incandela and others. “We had a wonderful time here and look forward to collaborating further with the Organization,” says Mary. “For instance, 2014 will be the Year of the Brain here in Europe, and we’ll be highlighting various ‘ambassadors’ to represent different presentations of the brain – from Olympians to authors and composers. Hopefully CERN can contribute physicists for this event.”

by Katarina Anthony