Message From the President
The scientific community and its advocates have come together this year in an unprecedented international show of support for science as we face a climate of uncertainty and vocal skepticism of the value of science and discovery.
Scientists increasingly are making their voices heard and translating the importance of the scientific endeavor to our society, as evidenced by the more than 1 million people in 600+ cities around the world who came together to March for Science in April. With our community of scientists, institutions, and organizational partners around the globe, the Society for Neuroscience is a vital part of this movement, leveraging opportunities to promote and advance neuroscience.
With enthusiastic support from the SfN Council, the Society made significant strategic investments in fiscal year 2017 to grow our programs in ways that help address the challenges facing the field and its nearly 37,000 members worldwide. This report offers an update on SfN’s evolving programs and activities focusing on the annual meeting, scientific journals, public outreach, and advocacy, and I encourage you to visit SfN.org often to learn more and find out how to get involved.
ELEVATING INNOVATIVE PROGRAMS FOR A GLOBAL MEMBERSHIP
SfN’s annual meeting and scientific journals continue to serve as a strong foundation for both the Society and the field at large. More than 30,000 members of the global neuroscience community gathered in San Diego for Neuroscience 2016, where the diversity of attendees and research showcased the increasingly interdisciplinary and international nature of basic and clinical neuroscience. All neuroscientists, regardless of their background, their age, their country, etc., are welcome at the annual meeting, thereby ensuring inclusive scientific discourse and interactions that strengthen the field.
Meanwhile, JNeurosci, SfN’s flagship journal, expanded to meet the changing needs of its authors and the publishing environment, while eNeuro, SfN’s rapidly growing open-access journal, experienced tremendous growth in its second full year. Both journals are committed to promoting high-quality science while also striving to improve our authors’ publishing experience.
Supporting members at all career levels in their professional development goals remained a priority for the Society in FY 2017. SfN created a variety of new online offerings, including a daylong virtual conference on glial cells, which allowed members around the world to take part in career development and scientific training regardless of where they live or work. Neuronline, SfN’s members-only home for learning and discussion, also added hundreds of new online resources this year that members can access on demand.
ESCALATING ADVOCACY EFFORTS TO SUPPORT THE FIELD
SfN’s expanding advocacy programs and partnerships in FY 2017 reflect the increased desire of our members to engage with their policymakers to urge robust funding for biomedical research and favorable scientific policies grounded in facts. The Society focused on creating an ever-stronger U.S. advocacy voice for neuroscience, including efforts to engage and train members in grassroots advocacy, develop neuroscience “champions” in Congress, and enhance advocacy communications.
SfN worked with local neuroscientists in targeted congressional districts and states to cultivate relationships with their lawmakers and raise the profile of neuroscience within Congress. The Society also sought to make it as easy as possible for all of its members to engage in advocacy year-round by providing guidance on effective strategies for communicating the importance of federal funding for science. In addition, SfN partnered with national and global scientific organizations on a range of efforts, such as supporting increased funding for research, endorsing the March for Science, and opposing policies that would hinder global scientific collaboration, which is essential for the advancement of the field.
RESHAPING BRAINFACTS.ORG FOR GREATER ENGAGEMENT
When people connect with science in their everyday lives and understand more fully that scientific research is the key to finding solutions to our public health crises, such as the United States’ skyrocketing opioid epidemic and the mounting prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease, they actively support research funding. Since its launch more than five years ago, BrainFacts.org has contributed to building knowledge of neuroscience by disseminating accurate, compelling information about the brain.
In FY 2017, SfN began work on a BrainFacts.org redesign, which debuted in fall 2017, to enhance engagement through more interactive content and storytelling with an audience-centric focus. With ongoing support from founding partners, The Kavli Foundation and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, and new investment from the Wellcome Trust, BrainFacts.org provides multifaceted opportunities for non-scientists to learn about the brain, growing respect for neuroscience and highlighting its remarkable promise.
THANK YOU TO A DIVERSE COMMUNITY OF VOLUNTEERS
SfN members are an exceedingly diverse global community of individuals at all ranks in academia and industry, all working toward the greater goal of understanding the brain and nervous system. I feel honored to have had the chance to serve as the leader of such a passionate and dedicated group of neuroscientists. Without you and your commitment to our field, the many accomplishments that SfN achieved this year would not have been possible. Thank you to all of the volunteers who donated their valuable time to the Society and to advancing the field of neuroscience.
— Eric J. Nestler, SfN President, 2016-17