INeC: History, Project and Prospects
The great development of the neurosciences over the last 30 years has led to considerable advancements in our understanding of the functioning of the brain. This extraordinary progress is largely due to the results of multidisciplinary efforts to study the neurobiology of mental disorders with the use of new, sophisticated and complex laboratory tools. The Institute of Neuroscience and Behavior (INeC) in Ribeirao Preto is a non-profit private organization of public interest formed to encourage research, promotion and education in the field of behavioral neuroscience. Founded in 2007, the INeC has over 150 members which derive from different fields (medicine, biology, psychology) and consist of scientists, clinicians, teachers, and others with a background and interest in the relationship between brain and behavior. The INeC has been supported by the Project “Documentation and Scientific Promotion in Neurosciences & Behavior” of the National Science Foundation, CNPq, with the aim of diffusion and popularization of science. The infrastructure of the INeC has been important for the organization of courses and scientific meetings, as well as for the elaboration of educational material that is available at its homepage (www.inec-usp.org).
Annual meetings are held in early spring each year with the locations varying to reflect the national scope of the INeC. The proceedings of the third forum were published in the indexed, free-access e-journal Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, vol. 45, no. 4.The next INeC meeting (5th Forum on Neurobiology of stress) will be held September 8-10, 2013, at the city of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais. Since its foundation INeC has been supported by research grants from Brazilian agencies such as the federal organism CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento e Pesquisa) and the Sao Paulo State FAPESP (Fundaçao de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado de Sao Paulo). Several courses have been developed for a broader audience and can be found at its homepage (www.inec-usp.org) as well as the planned activities for the year 2013.
Several laboratories in the USP have, by themselves, been contributing to the field of Neuroscience in important ways. The University of São Paulo has just created the Research Support Center on the Neurobiology of Emotions (Núcleo de Pesquisa em Neurobiologia das Emoções – NUPNE) at the campus of the University of São Paulo in Ribeirão Preto (CofRP-USP). NUPNE is associated to the Institute of Neurosciences and Behavior (INeC) to accomplish the aims of promoting and spreading neuroscience knowledge beyond the campus walls. INeC has worked together with USP laboratories aiming at improving the quality and impact of their studies on two main lines of research: 1) Investigation of aversive event-induced processes, including panic, fear, anxiety, and depression under a multidisciplinary perspective. The challenge will be to establish an integrative approach (behavioral, neuroanatomical, neurochemical, imunohistochemical and humoral) that will enable us to characterize the whole aversive stimulus-defensive behavior process that subserves the consequences of stress to the organism. In this respect, it is clear that the understanding of the neurochemical, anatomical and genetic substrates of anxiety and depression must take into account the chemistry of the "defense-system" in a broader approach and prospect. 2) Multidisciplinary research program using a “social determinants of mental health” framework. This second arm of the Project is in line with the growing recognition that mental health has been a neglected dimension of development. Mental health issues cannot be considered in isolation from other areas of development such as education, employment, emergency responses and human rights capacity building (WHO, 2010). In this respect a collaborative project with researchers from the University of Toronto is in course, using a”social determinants of mental health framework” to identify the social determinants that contribute to the onset of mental illness and the social determinants that prevent the rehabilitation and inclusion of those who are experiencing a mental illness in Brazil. This framework takes the position that “poor mental health is both a cause and a consequence of poverty, compromised education, gender inequality, ill-health, violence and other global challenges. It impedes the individual’s capacity to work productively, realize their potential and make a contribution to society” (WHO September, 2010). Our endeavor is to do everything within our reach to alleviate the suffering of people bearing mental health troubles. The project also intends to document the factors that facilitate and/or impede the implementation of evidence-based knowledge in the delivery of mental health services. Using the social determinants framework and public domain data in Brazil we intend to:
• identify those social determinants that are major contributors to the onset of mental illnesses
• Identify those social determinants that are preventing the rehabilitation of those who are experiencing a mental illness
• Identify the barriers and facilitating factors for the implementation of existing mental health knowledge in mental health services
The expected results of the development of the two branches of the INeC include the promotion and spread of the knowledge on neuroscience for the society, formation of qualified human resources, establishment of new academic disciplines and publication of articles and review papers emphasizing the outcomes of the project. The main aims of the INeC are summarized below:
I. Communications in national and international congresses and meetings of scientific societies.
II. Publication of original studies and review papers in neuroscience journals of high impact,
III. Strengthening of international research partnerships and consolidation of emerging research groups.
IV. Spurring multidisciplinary studies in order to boost this field of research,
V. Developing human resources with skills in neuroscience through laboratory training, as well as the elaboration of new teaching resources, and the organization of educational events and scientific meetings,
VI. Prompting the nucleation of emergent groups in the field of neurosciences.