By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Neuroscience research investigating the brain and how this ‘supercomputer’ controls every aspect of our body and behaviour, needs to be actively promoted and investigated in Pakistan and The Science Bridge initiative offers opportunities for local neuroscientists to participate in global efforts.
Prof Mazahir T Hasan of the Achucarro Basque Center for Neuroscience described how The Science Bridge’s mission is to “promote sustainable scientific collaboration between cultures and nations to understand the working principle of the brain, a global effort to find treatments and, possibly, cures for different neurological and psychiatric conditions.”
He spoke about a new and innovative concept, the Twin Institutes, that aims to link research institutes together, one in a Western country and another one in an Eastern country, around common goals in basic and applied neuroscience.
“The importance of neuroscience research cannot be overemphasized,” Prof Syed Ather Enam of the Aga Khan University remarked. “There are more than 1,000 disorders of the brain and nervous system that need to be managed and more than 50 percent of all diseases affect the nervous system.”
In 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) had estimated that neurological disorders affect up to one billion people worldwide, irrespective of age, sex, education or income.
In another discussion, Prof Joshua R Sanes from the Center for Brain Science, Harvard University, explained how the eye’s retina as complex as any other part of the brain but with several features that facilitate analysis can be used to understand the formation of synapses, the junction between two nerve cells.
The experts at the conference also discussed the status of neuroscience in Pakistan and how to proceed further. They agreed that there is a need for public awareness about the importance of research in understanding basic brain functions and neurological and psychiatric conditions in ‘local’ South Asian populations.
With collective international efforts and East-West collaborations, the experts expressed a hope that neuroscientists will eventually find innovative ways to treat and cure many neurological diseases.