This year’s International Forum on Women’s Brain and Mental Health will be a virtual event hosted by the Women’s Brain Project (WBP) and broadcast from Zurich, Switzerland. The theme is “Sex and gender differences in brain and mental health: The Gateway to Precision Medicine – Across the Lifespan”.

Over two days, the program will take attendees – including experts from academia, pharma, regulatory bodies as well as funding bodies, caregivers, and patients – on a journey.

On the first day, we will explore the issues, relevant sex differences, and what needs to be done. Three panels will examine self-destructive behavior in teenagers, maternal mental health challenges, and age-related pathologies such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Day two will focus on the way forward. Migraine will be taken as a case study for implementing policy changes. We will look at prevention with a focus on lifestyle changes or interventions that can have a positive impact on brain and mental health. Third, we will explore the potential for technology, with a particular emphasis on apps and startups, to offer solutions.

For each panel, experts will look at outstanding issues and challenges, keeping in mind two key questions:

  1. What are relevant sex differences?
  2. What would need to be done?

Confirmed Speakers to Date

We are thrilled to already have a great line-up of confirmed speakers for September’s event, including opening remarks by the European Union Commissioner for Research, Mariya Gabriel, and one of the keynotes that will be given by Dr Eliot Sorel.

A selection of confirmed speakers – in alphabetical order and with affiliations – include:

More speakers will be announced soon, make sure to check our Forum microsite for updates.

A Closer Look at Panels

Panel 1: Self-destructive behavior in teenagers from a gender perspective

There is a worrying increase in the rate of mental health conditions – from depression to eating disorders and suicide – amongst adolescents, especially girls; the reasons are not known.

Panel 2: Maternal mental health: Challenges for better treatment

Due to lack of registries, doctors often lack the data to guide a therapeutic decision to treat brain or mental conditions during pregnancy. This results in insufficient treatment of pre-existing mental conditions in the mothers, or in devastating effects on the offspring, as well as difficulties in addressing new issues such as postpartum depression.

Panel 3: The Elderly: Sex and gender differences in dementia & Alzheimer’s

A growing body of evidence indicates significant sex and gender differences in Alzheimer’s diagnosis and progression, as well as other conditions such as stroke and Parkinson. With the advent of new therapeutics for Alzheimer’s, the issue of how to integrate each difference into clinical trials has to be addressed.

Panel 4: Migraine as a case study for policy change

Taking Migraine as a specific example, the question of what kinds of policies could support migraineurs and how they could be adopted will be explored, alongside challenges and if and how to reflect sex and gender differences into such policies.

Panel 5: Prevention – lifestyle changes that can have a positive impact on brain and mental health

It is becoming increasingly clear that lifestyle (nutrition, sleep) can affect brain health; in the future, personalized nutrition, also considering sex, will be needed.

Panel 6: Startups for mental health

Several Apps have now received FDA approval to support the treatment of mental health conditions. This revolutionary approach might be particularly relevant for teenagers. However, the use and efficacy of such Apps might depend on sex and gender factors, which has never yet been explored.

The format of the WBP Forum will be completely virtual, with content available the week prior to the event as background information in the form of pre-recorded talks. This will give registered participants the possibility of viewing this content and submitting questions that will then be reflected in the live panels and talks given on 19-20 September.

To register for the Forum, click here.

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