International collaboration in the field of brain sciences

“The Jean-François and Marie-Laure de Clermont Tonnerre Foundation is centered on life and intends to support creation, whether scientific or artistic.

The human brain is the source of all research and all creativity, which prompted Albert Einstein to say that “the arts and sciences are branches of the same tree”… These are also two of the five themes identified as subjects of interest of predilection for our Foundation.

It therefore seemed perfectly legitimate to support the initiative of an international collaboration in the field of brain sciences, carried out jointly by the Sainsbury Wellcome Center (SWC) in London and the Edmond and Lily Safra center (ELSC) in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The original aim of this collaboration is to strengthen the links between the academic bodies of Israel and the United Kingdom through research.

To achieve this in a practical way, the idea is to set up a platform intended to encourage exchanges and promote collaborations between the two world-renowned research centers, both fairly recent, and endeavoring to combine theory and experiences. to try to apprehend and understand the functioning of the brain at the systemic level and more particularly genetic and cellular.

Concretely, this collaboration will be made possible thanks to local grants and mutual meetings.

The funding obtained will bring together scientists from each of the two institutions for an annual conference to be held alternately in Jerusalem and London and will help support and encourage student exchanges between the two countries.

Michel de Montaigne said: “You have to travel to rub and file your brain against that of others. “

In a more prosaic way, confrontations and the pooling of knowledge and research remain the surest means of progress and of achieving tangible and proven results.

The brain is quite possibly the most complex structure in the living world.

It is the body par excellence responsible for collecting, storing and also processing information of all kinds, including time components.

It must at the same time coordinate the vital functions of the organism and allow the latter an adaptive survival in uncontrolled environmental conditions.

It must also ensure its projection into the future through reproduction, and into the past thanks to its unique cognitive capacities.

Understanding the brain is a formidable scientific challenge of our time.

It was long considered that the brain was formed during intrauterine life and proceeded during the phase of infantile maturation to the final implementation of its circuits called to resist the ravages of time, neurons not being able to reproduce and exhibiting very reduced regeneration capacities.

We know today that the brain changes its structure not only during its development but throughout its life. It has a plasticity that allows it to adapt and to some extent compensate for neuronal disappearances due to aging. We are certainly very far from a promise of eternal youth, but the analysis and understanding of these phenomena gives rise to real hope for future progress in the treatment and fight against neurodegenerative diseases, for example, which affect a growing number of people. particularly due to the aging of the population.

New technologies generate a wealth of data about synapses, the types of neuronal cells and the complex circuits they form. These data must be theorized in a coherent, biologically plausible and testable way.

For research to be unified, it must be preceded by close interactions between experimenters and theorists.

Researchers at ELSC and SWC will initiate high-risk, high-payoff projects that are not normally funded by government agencies.

These two institutions share the conviction that brain research must be interdisciplinary, and combine theoretical, biological and cognitive approaches in neuroscience.

Their respective and common goal is to support research that will allow the theoretical understanding of biological problems in the field of neuroscience to be developed in order to better understand the normal and pathological functioning of the brain, which could lead to correcting its failures or even improving. performances.”