09 July 2012 | General
COST Action BM0905 underpins proposal for a Marie Curie Initial Training Network on Tourette Syndrome (TS)

TS-EUROTRAIN will be structuring European Training capacities for neurodevelopmental disorders.

A new Marie Curie Initial Training Network (ITN) has been approved to offer Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) the opportunity to improve their research skills, join established research teams and enhance their career prospects in the field of Tourette Syndrome (TS).

The establishment of the Training Network, ‘TS-EUROTRAIN’, was fostered by COST Action BM0905 ‘European Network for the Study of Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome’.

The Network has been designed to respond to the lack of structured and standardised training infrastructure for neurodevelopmental disorders across Europe. Such training would be fundamental to promoting standards of care and ultimately lead to strategies for the promotion of childhood mental health across Europe. The focus of TS-EUROTRAIN is Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome (TS), an inherited neuropsychiatric disorder that provides an excellent paradigm for the study and training needs for the onset of neurodevelopmental childhood disorders. TS is marked by multiple motor and vocal tics, high comorbidity rates with attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.

TS-EUROTRAIN is coordinated by Dr Peristera Paschou from the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics of the Democritus University of Thrace, who also chairs COST Action BM0905. The TS-EUROTRAIN team includes academic experts from the University of Ulm, the Hannover Medical School, Utrecht University, University Medical Center Groningen, Semmelweis University, and the Kennedy Center.

TS-EUROTRAIN will establish a comprehensive cross-disciplinary training programme in the field of TS and related disorders. This combined work will contribute to train the next generation of young researchers who will shape this medical field in Europe and worldwide.

The focus of the research activities to be carried out during the training programme will extend from topics such as disentangling the relative contribution of environment and genetics in TS etiology, and elucidating the neurobiological underpinnings of TS and related disorders, to investigating the mechanism of effect of existing drugs for TS, while at the same time seeking to identify novel druggable targets. A direct link to society will also be established through outreach and public engagement activities of participating ESRs. This will aim to increase students’ awareness about the societal contribution of this research field, while educating professionals, policy-makers and the wider public about neurodevelopmental disorders, in a pan-European effort to promote childhood mental health across Europe.

Participation of three partners from the private sector – leading experts in their fields – will build bridges between academia and industry. This inclusive aspect will be instrumental in training ESRs, and provide the insight of the private sector into this Training Network.  The team is complemented by a pool of associated partners both from Europe and beyond, turning this Network into a global initiative.