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Improvement in quality of life is of paramount importance for Health Care providers of all governments in the European Union. Our attention must therefore focus on the ever increasing incidence of neurodegenerative diseases, resulting from an ever increasing life expectancy. In an effort to face this challenge, training and research in neuroscience must be strengthened and intensified. In America and in Europe, the last decade of the past century was defined as the "brain decade" in biomedical research. In order to encourage the synergy between researchers coming from different scientific and humanistic backgrounds, researchers from leading centres in London, Lund, Tuebingen and Munich suggest an exciting training possibility. It is presently possible to reach an understanding of the organisation of higher cognitive functions on the basis of achievements made in different scientific fields. Such knowledge is of utmost importance in order to face the increasing impact of clinical diseases, as it allows the transfer of basic research to therapeutical applications in real time.

The specific objective of this Early Stage Research Training (EST) network is the integration and networking of ten outstanding research teams in the context of a well-defined research programme that will formulate and facilitate a structured training programme for researchers in the highly-specialised field of neurodegeneration research. ‘NEUROTRAIN’ will provide a unique and cohesive but flexible framework for the training and professional development of young researchers. These interacting centres bring together a critical mass of theoretical and applied research using a multidisciplinary approach. Each centre represents an existing working unit, having its own specific expertise and research agenda. Our project objectives have been designed based on the conviction and implicit belief that treatment of neurodegenerative diseases can only be achieved through a comprehensive understanding of genes involved in neuronal development, structure and cellular function in health and disease. This will allow a simultaneous approach for a functional understanding and characterization of disease mechanisms affecting central nervous system (CNS) and retinal neurons and lead to the development of therapeutic approaches, the ultimate end-point of this research programme.