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WPA Review – eNewsletter – News from the Member Societies – International Centre for Education and Research in Neuropsychiatry: on the banks of the Volga

The International Center for Education and Research in Neuropsychiatry (ICERN) originates from previous successful collaborations between experts from across the world as part of a progressive initiative with important administrative support from the chancellor of Samara State Medical University, Prof. Aleksander Kolsanov. The model of ICERN is unique for Russia and is based on the banks of the Volga river, in Samara City. The Volga is the longest river in Europe, and the largest in the world that flows into an inland Caspian Sea. Metaphorically speaking, the ICERN team aims to create new bridges and chart the river of knowledge from its source to the unrevealed depths of its mouth.

ICERN brings together national and international experts to target excellence in research and education for better clinical practice across mental healthcare systems. Creating such a diverse group of clinical and applied neurosciences researchers (neurobiologists, pharmacogeneticists, psychiatrists, psychologists, psycholinguists, neurologists) was challenging during the pandemic, but represents an important step for highlighting higher medical education in the psychiatry field. At ICERN we aim to achieve (i) the highest standards in evidence-based neuropsychiatry incorporating key innovations and new technologies (e.g., AI, VR/AR, digital Mental Health), (ii) a unification of basic and clinical neurosciences for better quality of patient care, and (iii) international collaboration, mentorship, and integration of national psychiatry into the global professional community.

ICERN hosts a team of collaborators working face-to-face and remotely, all focusing on the search for a common interdisciplinary language. The ICERN group is supervised by the World Psychiatric Association’s (WPA) General Secretary, Prof. Peter Morozov (Russia) as senior advisor on strategic development. As co-directors, we are happy to have the Southern Europe Zone 8 Representative, Prof. Konstantinos N. Fountoulakis (Greece) and evidence-based Psychiatry Section member, former President of Russian and Asian ECPs Councils (2011-2013), and WPA-Servier Academy alumni,
Assoc. Prof. Daria Smirnova (Russia). The ICERN team includes national and foreign experts: Florence Thibaut (France), Paul Cumming (Switzerland), Avinash DeSouza (India), Domenico De Berardis (Italy) and Xenia Gonda (Hungary). ICERN administers memorandum of understanding between institutions to arrange resources for project management.

The list of ICERN R&D projects can be viewed at the ICERN website
• ICERN P.I. Prof. Fountoulakis and his team are managing an international multicentre project on mental health of the general population of 40 countries during the COVID-19 lockdown (COMET-G by WPA, Panhellenic Medical Association, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki).
• Dr. Smirnova coordinates multicentre project on thought, language and communication disorder in schizophrenia patients and their families and plans to proceed with the project on early detection of depression via automated speech analysis.
• Prof. Thibaut elaborates on a variety of approaches for studying women’s mental health.
• Prof. Cumming is an expert on neuroimaging research.
• The WPA Evidence-based Psychiatry Section also supports the Centre’s educational initiative, the ICERN Web-Library of Neuropsychiatry, which launched in spring 2021.

This video library supports a hybrid teaching module approach in bilingual psychiatric training, by presenting recorded lectures for doctors, students, and candidates for an MSc program in Clinical Neuropsychiatry.

Daria Smirnova, MD, PhD, Assoc. Prof.