Brain disorders are among the most prevalent and debilitating diseases. Because most major brain disorders are chronic, quality of life and socio-economic prospects are dramatically impaired. Increased life expectancy further enhances the impact of brain dysfunction on society. In the coming decades this burden will grow into one of most pressing and costly problems of the EU. Prevalent brain disorders are typically caused by the interplay of environmental factors and genetic variation in multiple genes, which is currently being mapped by large international efforts. Future brain research should aim at integrative projects as a next step to characterize the complex interplay between these multiple genetic and environmental factors and reveal how this translates into disease. To succeed, a new generation of neuroscientists is needed, capable of integrating information across different levels, from genes and proteins to synapses, and from networks up to complex brain (dys)function. Eight leading EU institutes (Amsterdam, London, Paris, Heidelberg, Stockholm, Magdeburg, Leuven and Trieste) together with the Japanese RIKEN, five commercial partners and FENS have formed an initial training network, ITN BrainTrain. Partners were selected on their outstanding publication record and their ability to integrate different disciplines. Meanwhile 12 PhD students have been recruited who have started their various projects in 2010.
BrainTrain builds on our knowledge of genome information and exploits innovative technologies and infrastructure to integrate this to unravel the (dys)function of living neurons, networks and the whole brain. Local specialists offer network-wide training and meetings. Our existing EU funded resources (IP EUsynapse, NeuroCypres and Neuromics EST) will provide an excellent, multicultural and inspiring environment for a new generation of integrative neuroscientists. BrainTrain will deliver 15 skilled ESR prepared for future challenges in neuroscience with optimal career opportunities and the ability to contribute to the fight against brain disorders.