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The NEURON Network has launched a joint transnational call for projects on ethical, legal, and social aspects of Neuroscience (ELSA).

The 'Network of European Funding for Neuroscience Research' (NEURON) aims to coordinate and optimize research efforts and funding programmes of its partner countries/regions in the field of disease related neuroscience.

In acknowledgement of the high societal relevance of the neurosciences, this year, the fourth separate and additional JTC on Ethical, Legal, and Social Aspects (ELSA) of Neuroscience is now launched in parallel to the regular NEURON JTC, which focusses on “Mechanisms of resilience and vulnerability to environmental challenges in mental health”.

The aim of the call is to facilitate multinational, collaborative research projects that will address important questions regarding ethical, philosophical, legal and socio-cultural aspects related to the neurosciences and their recent advances, to provide scientific knowledge for an informed debate in science and society, evaluate opportunities and risks associated with technological and methodological progress and to expand the general knowledge base. This will help the various stakeholders in politics, science and society to gain a better understanding of these aspects and provides the basis for the development of a legal framework for neuroscience and for drafting general guidelines for the practical application of technologies and methods.

The individual components of joint applications should be complementary and should contain novel, ambitious ideas to answer key questions or lead to a step-wise change in understanding. There should be clear added value in funding the collaboration over the individual projects.

All scientific disciplines and stakeholders, which are relevant for the specific ELSA-research question, should be integrated. This could be for instance experts from the fields of neuroscience, psychology, medicine, informatics, engineering, philosophy, theology, law, social sciences, cultural studies or healthcare economy. Depending on the research question, it may also be necessary to integrate (pharmaceutical) industry, health insurances, patients, relatives, patient representatives or other groups of persons who are directly affected.

Projects should go beyond purely analytical or descriptive levels related to the past or present. Based on their analyses, the applicants should aim at giving prospects for the future and developing proposals for socio-compatible use of neuroscientific advances. Additionally, the applicants should develop and implement concepts for effective public communication of their results. Communication of the results on an international level is desirable.

Further, the ERA-NET NEURON seeks to strengthen public and patient engagement in research and thereby empowerment. Applicants are expected to engage citizens and/or patients, where appropriate, in their research process. Meaningful public and patient engagement can occur at the level of research planning, conducting research or research result dissemination.

Proposals without primarily ethical, legal and/or social implication cannot be funded.

For further details, please refer to the programme’s official website and check the funders’ specific requirements for Swiss applicants. The submission deadline for full proposals is on 4 May 2023 on mySNF, in addition to the submission via the electronic submission tool of the NEURON ELSA Call Secretariat.