Network
European Research Area Networks (ERA-NETs) are projects funded by the European Commission in various research fields. Their goal is to create a European Research Area in which research is conducted and funded across countries, allowing research groups to jointly work on specific problems, exchange ideas, and benefit from cross border expertise. The Network of European Funding for Neuroscience Research (NEURON) was initiated in 2003 as a pilot Specific Support Action. This Action was developed into a full-fledged ERA-NET with NEURON I (2008 – 2011) and continued with its direct successor NEURON II (2012 – 2015).

Under the current EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation ‘Horizon 2020’ a new chapter is opened with NEURON Cofund (2016 – 2020), that builds on and further develops the structures established by its predecessors.

Partners
To-date 25 funding organisations from 14 EU countries, Israel and Turkey as EU-associated countries, and Norway and Canada participate in NEURON Cofund: Austria (FWF), Belgium (FNRS/Flandern, FWO), Canada (CIHR, FRQS/Québec), Finland (AKA), France (ANR, INSERM, CNRS), Germany (DLR-PT/BMBF), Israel (CSO-MOH), Italy (MOH), Latvia (VIAA), The Netherlands (NWO), Norway (RCN), Poland (NCBR), Portugal (FCT), Romania (UEFISCDI), Slovakia (SAS), Spain (ISCIII, MINECO), United Kingdom (MRC), Turkey (TÜBITAK).

Associated Partners
The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (ONF) are associated NEURON-Partners and participate in NEURON Joint Transnational Calls (JTCs).

Mission
Research into the human brain and its diseases is one of the key challenges of the 21st century. Among the many diseases affecting health, disorders of the brain are major causes for impaired quality of life and increasing health care costs. Despite some progress in understanding the molecular mechanisms of various neurological and psychiatric disorders, research is still far from being able to offer solutions to conquer them. In addition, the development of curative treatments or prevention strategies has not been, to date, very successful. A concerted effort of funding organisations and of research groups in this area, is thus needed to reach the long term goal of curing patients with disorders of the brain and nervous system, and helping their relatives.

Due to the importance of research in the area of brain diseases, a variety of independent national and regional funding programmes exist in most countries. NEURON Cofund avoids the problems of fragmentation in the national efforts by co-ordinating national and regional programmes for disease-related neuroscience research. This includes the 27 participating funding organisations and associated partners across Europe, Israel, and Canada. The extension of the collaboration beyond the European Research Area into North America reflects the global dimension of brain research, and increases NEURON’s effectiveness. The ERA-NET serves as a platform for funding agencies and ministries, to develop joint activities and programmes to coordinate high quality research across national borders. One of the core activities are annually launched joint transnational calls for proposals for research groups operating in the NEURON partner countries. With each new funding round, different areas of disease-related brain research are addressed.
This project receives funding from the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 under grant agreement no 680966 and was previously funded from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 291840.

Neuron Cofund web page: https://www.neuron-eranet.eu/ 

Calls

Joint calls for proposals are the centrepiece of NEURON’s transnational activities. On an annual basis, the ministries and funding agencies networking within NEURON launch joint transnational calls (JTCs) in the field of disease-related neuroscience.

What NEURON funds
NEURON JTCs address important topics from the areas of neuroscience, neurology or psychiatry. Call topics are usually kept quite broad to cover various aspects of a research field and to allow for participation of different disciplines in the projects.

NEURON aims to support basic, clinical and translational research, directed at a better understanding of the brain and nervous system and related diseases in order to pave the way for new or improved means for diagnosis and therapy. NEURON aims to promote intense and ease to manage top-level research collaborations across Europe, Israel and Canada. To this aim, NEURON funds small, multidisciplinary research consortia consisting usually of 3-5 research groups originating from different NEURON partner countries.

Our criteria for selecting proposals are:

1. Excellence
2. Impact
3. Quality and efficiency of the implementation

Projects may be funded for a maximum of three years.

Who can apply?
The funding for a research group stems from national/regional research budgets, and each NEURON partner organization is free to choose whether to participate in a respective JTC. Even external funding organizations may join a specific NEURON call without formal full ERA-NET partnership. Accordingly, the number of participating partner organizations varies from call to call.

For applicants, it is thus mandatory to check the list of funding organisations supporting a call, and to find out whether they are eligible for funding by their corresponding national/regional funding agency. Our national/regional contact points are provided in the annex of each call text.

Procedure
The application procedure has usually two stages: First, we call for short pre-proposals outlining the main research idea and the consortium structure. An international peer review panel assesses and ranks these pre-proposals. Second, the best consortia are invited to submit elaborate full proposals that are again peer-reviewed. The NEURON funding organizations fund from their national or regional budgets as many of the top consortia as possible, according to scientific excellence and financial means, and following the ranking list that has been set up by the review panel. Each Principal Investigator in a funded consortium receives the grant from the respective national or regional funding agencies and the ensuing funding process is regulated along the respective national/regional agencies’ procedures.

Joint Transnational Call 2019 (CLOSED)
The aim of the call is to facilitate multinational, collaborative research projects that will address the unmet medical need for valid and reliable biomarkers for the diagnosis, patient stratification, prognosis, monitoring and prediction of treatment response and side effects in neurological and psychiatric diseases. The NEURON funding organizations particularly wish to promote multi-disciplinary work and translational research proposals that combine basic and clinical approaches. In the context of the present call, the inclusion of psychiatrists and/or neurologists in the postulating consortia is highly encouraged, along with fundamental neuroscientists. The consortia are expected to submit novel, ambitious ideas that can only be achieved by the complementary collaboration between partners. Research proposals should cover at least one of the following areas:

a) Fundamental research addressing the discovery and validation of biomarkers to be used as bio signatures of the pathophysiology associated to specific neurological and psychiatric diseases.

b) Clinical research on clinically relevant biomarkers for the diagnosis, patient stratification, prognosis or monitoring or prediction of treatment response and side effects for specific neurological and psychiatric diseases.

Proposals may include hypothesis-driven studies on a variety of biomarkers, e.g. structural, functional, molecular, genetic biomarkers. Digital, behavioral or cognitive biomarkers are eligible only in combination with other bio signatures. In all cases, a clear pathophysiological correlate and studies on human participants or tissue should be included in the proposal. Clinical studies are eligible up to the point of proof of concept

January 9, 2019 Publication of the Joint Transnational Call

March 11, 2019 Deadline (submission of pre-proposals) 14:00 CET

Call web page: https://www.neuron-eranet.eu/en/865.php