Four years after the achievement of the María de Maeztu Excellence award, it’s time to submit the evaluation of the actions taken in the period 2017-2021 and present the strategic plan for the next period. During the last 4 years we have bet on young talent to help them become the researchers of the future. We have developed new strategies to increase international projects and to promote synergies within the Institute. We recruited prestigious senior researchers. We have improved our scientific outputs and kept up with the high level of European research. We have further engaged with the public and strengthened our presence in society.  We have bet on knowledge transfer by hiring an specialist on and increasing the contacts with private companies.

All these actions were reviewed at the Annual Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) meeting of the Institute of Neurosciences of the University of Barcelona that took place last 25-27 of November 2021 in the Faculty of Psychology at Campus Mundet. The aim of this meeting was to discuss and plan the strategy of the Institute to ensure growth and scientific excellence, and to prepare the submission of the María de Maeztu award for the 2022-2025 period. 

The event started with the institutional opening conducted by Dr. Joan Guàrdia (Rector of the UB), Dr. Antonio Solanas (Dean of Faculty of Psychology), and Dr. Albert Díaz-Guilera (Coordinator of UB Research Institutes). All of them agreed on the importance of the María de Maeztu award and thanked the SAB members for their involvement in the project.

Director Jordi Alberch and the research promotor Cristina Pulido exposed the current status of the Institute, the main achievements up to date based on talent attraction and the creation of spin-offs. This was followed by a presentation of the research strategy for the next 4 years, including recruiting and international projects.

The morning of the second day was focused on young researchers sessions divided in 4 sections based on different study area at the Institute of Neurosciences. The Chair of the session was Cristina de la Malla (Department of Cognition, Development and Educational Psychology). The session on “Pathophysiology of Nervous System” started with Sandra Acosta and her presentation “Deciphering human brain development: from genomes to functions”, and was followed by Gerard Callejo who talked about peripheral cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying chronic pain. In the section of “Experimental Neurology”, Roser Sala presented statistical modelling and data analysis for neuroimaging, and Marina López focused her talk on neurocognitive markers of centralized chronic pain and depression across the lifespan. At “Cognitive and behavioural” section, Isabel García presented her work on obesity, binge eating, and food addiction. The last presentation on “Scientific technological platform” entitled “Remote control and imaging of neural activity” was conducted by Jordi Bonaventura. At the end of each presentation, the members of the SAB formulated questions to the speakers.

The last part of the morning session was a round table where the young investigators had the chance to formulate questions, request for advice, and discuss many different aspects of interest related with their present and future as investigators.

If the morning session was focused on young researchers, the afternoon session was for PhD students. The SAB and the PhD Committee did a short presentation, followed by parallel mentoring round tables with every member of the SAB.

At the end of the second day, the SAB got together to deliberate and discuss all the information provided.

The third day, the SAB presented their conclusions to the Board of Directors of the Institute of Neurosciences and provided very good recommendations about the future strategy based on strengths and weaknesses to ensure that we keep pushing the boundaries of neuroscience research.  

As a result of the meeting, the SAB will write a report stating the actual state of the Institute and recommendations for the following years.