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Report from FENS 2022 - Federation of European Neuroscience Societies

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The Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) Forum meeting takes place every two years in a European country since 1998 with the aim of promoting neuroscience research policy-makers, funding bodies, and the general public. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FENS Forum in 2020 was held virtually. So, after four years without a physical meeting, the FENS Forum meeting for 2022 took place in Paris from 9th-13th of July and a great number of international neuroscientists attended the meeting in-person to discuss their research face-to-face. According to the FENS website, almost 8000 scientists were registered and more than 4800 posters were presented across 200 different topics.

As a French neuroscientist working in Paris itself, it was the place to be. The opening ceremony was amazing with a visual artistic experience of music and dance. The song “We are family” united and connected the people who were singing and dancing together, showing that music and science are universal. The meeting was a great opportunity to meet again people again in in-person and to have face-to-face discussions. I was happy to see friends and former colleagues from all over the world. Being in the same place at the same time, increases the chance of people meeting and crossing paths, and also people are more available to chat compared to virtual meetings. I enjoyed my session poster session where in which I had a lot of visitors that came to discuss and ask questions. It was more lively and interesting compared to my virtual poster presentations that I have experienced during the past year.

The FENS Forum program was great and covered a lot of topics. I, personally, work on neuron-astrocyte interactions which is a small field in neuroscience, but I found a lot of interesting symposium talks and posters related to my field. I also liked attending symposiums and lectures that were not of within my field but since I was at the congress venue, I used that opportunity to learn new things.

The FENS Forum also offering some “special interest events” to inform oneself about science communication, training, neuroethics, and mentoring. It’s always good to be informed about other perspectives and learn about specific activities that you won’t may not have the chance to know if you were not there.

In parallel of the FENS Forum, plenty of satellite scientific satellite and social events were also organized. I decided to join one on the 7th of July on Glial cells and another one organized by the Inscopix company on the 8th of July, giving me a full week of activities. It was great but the seven days of meetings were very intense, and at the end I was less alert and attentive to the lectures compared to the first days of the meeting. I also attended the social event organized on the evening of the 12th of July by the French, Spanish, and Portuguese Glial Cell clubs. We had a nice interactive historical lecture on myelin given by Dr. Boris Zalc with quizzes during the talk, which was followed by a dinner in a nice Italian restaurant nearby. I appreciated the opportunity to meet people in a less formal format and to have casual discussions with well-known scientists.

After the end of the FENS Forum 2022, unfortunately for me, it ended on a less positive note because I tested positive for COVID with the typical symptoms of fever, headache, aches, and a runny nose. I can of course only blame myself because I was probably not too cautious during the event. It’s probably a price to pay when masks were not mandatory and attendees were not actively tested. Let’s hope for better organization on this part in the next meeting. However, personally, I enjoyed the FENS Forum 2022 meeting very much because of the interesting and broad scientific programmes, and naturally, I was more than happy to be able to meet so many people again in a big conference center. I look forward to more in-person meetings in the future!

Written by Isabelle Arnoux; Edited by J J Fung. Photograph provided by Isabelle Arnoux. Featured Image: NGC/Design.

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