6 September 2017

Louk Vanderschuren named next President of the European Behavioural Pharmacology Society

Louk Vanderschuren has been named the next President of the European Behavioural Pharmacology Society (EBPS): an international research network of scientists in the fields of pharmacology, experimental psychology, psychiatry and the neurosciences. The society’s members come from every country in Europe and many countries abroad. Vanderschuren will take over the position from the sitting president in two years’ time.

In the past, the European Behavioural Pharmacology Society mainly focused on research into psychoactive pharmaceuticals and behaviour, but its work is increasingly shifting more towards the neurobiology of behaviour, Vanderschuren’s field of expertise. “Over time, the research in our field has become much broader and more fundamental. We want to understand how brain functions relate to behaviour. It is important to know how psychoactive pharmaceuticals work, but it is just as important to understand how brain functions correlate to behaviour, including deviant behaviour, in humans and in animals. We aim to build a strong scientific foundation in order to understand how treatment methods for mental disorders actually work inside the brain, and how they influence behaviour.”

“What do I consider to be a major challenge facing EBPS? Well, most psychiatric conditions have a social component as well. It is vital to understand which brain functions stimulate social behaviour, and how social factors affect behaviour. From a scientific and social perspective, this area offers a lot of potential.”

Building a stronger bridge

The EBPS hopes to build a stronger bridge between human-related research and research using animal experiments. “What are the current questions in human research, and how can we apply them to animal experiments and vice-versa”, asks Vanderschuren. “That translational component is very important.”

We aim to build a strong scientific foundation in order to understand how treatment methods for mental disorders actually work inside the brain, and how they influence behaviour.

As its name implies, the EBPS is a European organisation, but almost half of its members now come from the US. “We want to promote the organisation’s international character more, especially in North America, but also in South America and Asia. We have to involve scientists from those countries more closely in our society. Also, as an organisation we want to dramatically improve our use of social media.”  

Higher profile

His appointment will give the field of the neurobiology of behaviour a higher profile internationally. Vanderschuren: “It’s a recognition of the importance of our research, and I’m very pleased with that. So yes, we’re going to celebrate!”