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SMi Presents their 10th annual conference on...

Clinical Trials in CNS

About the conference

SMi’s 10th annual conference on Clinical Trials in CNS will bring together leading industry experts to explore the current and future opportunities within CNS drug development. With 35% of the global disease burden due to CNS disorders, this event addresses a vital area of research.

This year SMi Group's conference aims to cover clinical drug discovery activities, new therapeutic targets, as well as effective CNS drug development strategies and problems encountered in clinical trials, with in-depth discussions and case study presentations from the key industry players.


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Key topics to be addressed:


  • Cognition enhancement
  • Latest developments in MS, PD and AD clinical development 
  • Biomarkers and CNS clinical trials  
  • Participant recruitment and retention issues in CNS clinical trials
  • Schizophrenia and depression: specific considerations.
  • Efficacy predictions
  • Current challenges in translational CNS research 
  • Facilitating and establishing industry and academic partnering
  • Early phase development trials in CNS

Interested in speaking at the conference?  Contact the Conference Producer.

For sponsorship and exhibition opportunities, Contact our Sponsorship Department.


Conference chairmen:


Day 1

Georg C. Terstappen

Director and Department Head, Neuroscience Discovery


Day 2

Hitendra Parmar

European Medical Director of Alzheimer's Disease




Currently confirmed speakers include:


Sophie Dix, Senior Research Scientist, Neurodegenerative Diseases Drug Hunting Team, Lilly
Ge Ruigt,
Director Experimental Medicine Neuroscience, MSD

Paul Thompson, Associate, Director Discovery Medicine Unit, GSK
Georg C. Terstappen,
Director and Department Head, Neuroscience Discovery, Abbott
Florian von Raison,
Head of ,Global Clinical Development  Unit Parkinson’s Disease, Merck Serono
Hitendra Parmar,
European Medical Director for Alzheimer’s Disease, Pfizer
Keith Wesnes,
Practice Leader Specialty Clinical Services, Bracket Global

Peter Joseph Jongen, Founding Director, MS4 Research Institute
Catherine Harmer,
Head of Group, Psychopharmacology and Emotion Research Laboratory, Oxford University
Sabine Bahn
, University Lecturer, University of Cambridge
Patrick Kehoe,
Reader in Translational Dementia Research, University of Bristol
Simon Ridley,
Head of Research, Alzheimer’s Research UK
David Dexter,
Reader in NeuroPharmacology, Department of Medicine, Imperial College London
Claire Troakes,
Brain Bank Coordinator London Neurodegenerative Diseases Brain Bank, King's College London

Jeremy Chataway, Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer, Imperial College London

Mondher Toumi, Professor and Chair of Market Access, University of Lyon 1

Willem Riedel, Cognition Biomarkers & Experimental Medicine Leader, CNS Clinical Research & Early Development, F. Hoffman La Roche

Claus Juul Loland, Associate Professor, Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, University of Copenhagen

Alan Cross, Chief Scientist, Senior Pain Research Area, AstraZeneca




You should attend this event if you are a Director, Area Head, CSO, or VP from within the Pharmaceutical or Healthcare industry with responsibilities in the following areas:

  • CNS Clinical Discovery/Nervous System Research
  • Clinical Trial Management and Operation
  • CNS Therapeutics and Molecular Profiling
  • Neurology/Neuroscience
  • Medical Directors
  • Pain Research/Management
  • Biomarkers and Imaging
  • Pre-Clinical/Clinical R&D
  • Clinical Pharmacology
  • Patient Recruitment
  • Translational Medicine
  • Biostatistics and Modelling
  • Emerging Targets/Lead Optimisation
  • Genomics/Bioinformatics/Neuroinformatics

Conference programme

8:30 Registration & Coffee

9:00 Chairman's Opening Remarks

Georg C. Terstappen

Georg C. Terstappen, Director and Department Head, Neuroscience Discovery, Abbott Laboratories

9:10 Cognition strategy in research & early development

Willem Riedel

Willem Riedel, Professor of Experimental Psychopahrmacology, Faculty of Psychology & Neuroscience, Maastricht University

  • Cognitive Performance: Translatable across species?
  • Cognitive Impairment: Translatable across different neuropsychiatric diseases?
  • The pseudospecificity puzzle: is cognition a biomarker or an independent (treatable) symptom cluster?
  • 9:50 Indentifying cognition enhancement: Expanding opportunities in drug development

  • What are the optimal cognitive tests and trial methodologies?
  • Traditional and emerging target populations: from dementia through to oncology and schizophrenia
  • Case studies in pathological ageing, sleep disorders, MS and oncology
  • Keith Wesnes

    Keith Wesnes, Practice Leader, Bracket Global

    10:30 Morning Coffee

    10:50 Current challenges in translational CNS research

    Georg C. Terstappen

    Georg C. Terstappen, Director and Department Head, Neuroscience Discovery, Abbott Laboratories

  • Identification and validation of disease-relevant target molecules
  • Design of disease-relevant 'screening cascades'
  • Crossing the blood-brain barrier
  • Identification of 'translatable' biomarkers
  • Improving the success rate of clinical Phase 2 (POC) studies
  • 11:30 Disease biomarkers for schizophrenia – from laboratory to patient beside

    Sabine Bahn

    Sabine Bahn, Senior Medical Director, Neuropsychiatry, Myriad RBM Inc

    • Results from biomarker discovery studies
    • What these findings suggest
    • Identification of candidate biomarker panel

    12:10 Networking Lunch

    13:10 Targeting the brain Renin Angiotensin System - future prospects for Alzheimer’s disease and Vascular dementia

    Patrick Kehoe

    Patrick Kehoe, Reader in Translational Dementia Research, University Of Bristol

    13:50 Challenges and opportunities in dementia research: the Alzheimer’s Research UK perspective

    Simon Ridley

    Simon Ridley, Head of Research, Alzheimer’s Research UK

  • A summary on recent progress in dementia research
  • Current barriers to disease-modifying treatments, from the laboratory to the clinic
  • What is being done to address these challenges
  • 14:30 Sleeping with the enemy: Facilitating and establishing industry and academic partnering

    Sophie Dix

    Sophie Dix, Senior Research Scientist, Eli Lilly

  • Overcoming the high attrition of new CNS drugs through industry-acdemic collaborations
  • Experiences from collaborations: IMI and CCN
  • The Pharma perspective
  • 15:10 Afternoon Tea

    15:30 Recent Clinical Trials in MS -Achievements and Challenges

    Peter Joseph Jongen

    Peter Joseph Jongen, Founding Director , MS4 Research Institute

  • Overview of research at the MS4 institute
  • Current trials and results
  • Common challenges in this therapeutic area
  • Lessons to learn
  • 16:10 Designing better trials in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS)

    Jeremy Chataway

    Jeremy Chataway, Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer, Imperial College London

  • SPMS is major cause of disability in young people affected by neurological illness
  • Whilst the early stages of MS are increasingly well treated, the pivotal problem of altering an established gradient of progression remains
  • I will review briefly the underlying clinico-pathological substrate; examine trials carried out over the last 2 decades; and discuss methods (particularly of an adaptive type) which might accelerate the trial process
  • 16:50 Chairman’s Closing Remarks and Close of Day One

    8:30 Registration & Coffee

    9:00 Chairman's Opening Remarks

    Hitendra Parmar

    Hitendra Parmar, Medical Director, Alzheimers Disease, Pfizer

    9:10 Trialling neuroprotection in Parkinson’s: Translating basic science into clinical trials

    David Dexter

    David Dexter, Reader in NeuroPharmacology, Department of Medicine, Imperial College London

    9:50 Parkinson’s disease and non-motor symptoms. Challenges in the evaluation of non-motor symptoms in clinical trials and development programs

    Florian von Raison

    Florian von Raison, Head of Global Clinical Development Unit, Parkinson's Disease, Merck Serono

    10:30 Morning Coffee

    10:50 Molecular biomarkers in translational animal models for neuropsychiatric disorders

    Sabine Bahn

    Sabine Bahn, Director, Cambridge Centre for Neuropsychiatric Research, Cambridge University

  • Significant challenges of modelling neuropsychiatric disorders in animals
  • Characterising animal models that more closely reflect human molecular abnormalities
  • Employing a multi-analyte ELISA platform to define the serum proteome of preclinical models
  • Identifying suitable candidate models for schizophrenia pre-clinical studies
  • Evidence that serum biomarkers in animal models and patients correlate with certain behavioural abnormalities
  • 11:30 Prediction of efficacy in depression

    Catherine Harmer

    Catherine Harmer, Department of Psychiatry, Oxford University

  • Antidepressant drugs may affect the behavioral and neural processing of emotional information prior to clinical changes in mood, emotional biomarker tests for use in drug development may therefore be possible.
  • Patients with depression and those with subclinical dysphoria show negative biases in emotional processing both in a behavioural test battery (the emotional test barry, ETB) and in neuroimaging paradigms with fMRI
  • Negative affective biases in the ETB and fMRI paradgims are resolved with antidepressant drug treatment before changes in mood are seen. Similar effects are seen in healthy (non-depressed) controls.
  • The importance to the therapeutic action of antidepressant treatments in depression: a new translational approach to screening and developing novel candidate treatments
  • 12:10 Networking Lunch

    13:10 The allosteric binding site for antidepressants in the serotonin transporter is located to the conserved extracellular vestibule

    Claus Juul Loland

    Claus Juul Loland, Associate Professor, Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, University of Copenhagen

  • Using experimentally verified induced fit docking models we have mapped an allosteric binding site for antidepressants on the serotonin transporter.
  • The most pronounced effect was observed for escitalopram inhibiting escitalopram dissociation with a potency of 4.3 μM. 
  • This dual action of escitalopram could be responsible for the higher efficacy and faster onset observed in clinical trials for escitalopram as compared to racemic citalopram.
  • On the basis of these results, it is now possible to develop drugs selective for the allosteric binding site posing a different clinical profile
  • 13:50 Patient recruitment and retention issues in CNS clinical trials

    Hitendra Parmar

    Hitendra Parmar, Medical Director, Alzheimers Disease, Pfizer

  • Features of CNS trials that affect patient recruitment and retention.
  • Getting the patient into the trial in the first place.
  • Retaining the enrolled patient in the trial.
  • Recruitment and retention issues in Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia clinical trials.
  • 14:30 Afternoon Tea

    14:50 CNS tissue banking for neuroscience research

    Claire Troakes

    Claire Troakes, Brain Bank Coordinator, London Neurodegenerative Diseases Brain Bank , Kings College London

    15:30 Integrating Market Access upfront clinical development is a must

    Mondher  Toumi

    Mondher Toumi, Chair Market Access, University Claude Bernard of Lyon 1

    • Clinical development strategy and trial design has become critical for achieving Market Access
    • Inappropriate comparators, outcomes, study duration are the first reasons for non-recommendation
    • Health economics output is mainly driven by efficacy and effectiveness

    16:10 Chairman’s Closing Remarks and Close of Day Two



    Marriott Regents Park

    128 King Henry's Road
    London NW3 3ST
    United Kingdom

    Marriott Regents Park

    This 4 star north London hotel in zone 2 is the perfect destination for the astute business traveler as well as the leisure guest that knows how convenient north London hotels are, as a base from which to explore the city .Bond Street is just 3 stops from Swiss Cottage underground station on the Jubilee Line, so you can be shopping, exploring the sights and taking in one of London’s world-renowned West End shows in less than 15 minutes when you stay at this hotel near central London. At the same time, the hive of activity that is Camden Town, the chic shops, cafes and restaurants of Primrose Hill and ZSL’s London Zoo in Regents Park are all just a short walk from this hotel in north London.



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    CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development’. It is essentially a philosophy, which maintains that in order to be effective, learning should be organised and structured. The most common definition is:

    ‘A commitment to structured skills and knowledge enhancement for Personal or Professional competence’

    CPD is a common requirement of individual membership with professional bodies and Institutes. Increasingly, employers also expect their staff to undertake regular CPD activities.

    Undertaken over a period of time, CPD ensures that educational qualifications do not become obsolete, and allows for best practice and professional standards to be upheld.

    CPD can be undertaken through a variety of learning activities including instructor led training courses, seminars and conferences, e:learning modules or structured reading.


    There are approximately 470 institutes in the UK across all industry sectors, with a collective membership of circa 4 million professionals, and they all expect their members to undertake CPD.

    For some institutes undertaking CPD is mandatory e.g. accountancy and law, and linked to a licence to practice, for others it’s obligatory. By ensuring that their members undertake CPD, the professional bodies seek to ensure that professional standards, legislative awareness and ethical practices are maintained.

    CPD Schemes often run over the period of a year and the institutes generally provide online tools for their members to record and reflect on their CPD activities.


    Professional bodies and Institutes CPD schemes are either structured as ‘Input’ or ‘Output’ based.

    ‘Input’ based schemes list a precise number of CPD hours that individuals must achieve within a given time period. These schemes can also use different ‘currencies’ such as points, merits, units or credits, where an individual must accumulate the number required. These currencies are usually based on time i.e. 1 CPD point = 1 hour of learning.

    ‘Output’ based schemes are learner centred. They require individuals to set learning goals that align to professional competencies, or personal development objectives. These schemes also list different ways to achieve the learning goals e.g. training courses, seminars or e:learning, which enables an individual to complete their CPD through their preferred mode of learning.

    The majority of Input and Output based schemes actively encourage individuals to seek appropriate CPD activities independently.

    As a formal provider of CPD certified activities, SMI Group can provide an indication of the learning benefit gained and the typical completion. However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the delegate to evaluate their learning, and record it correctly in line with their professional body’s or employers requirements.


    Increasingly, international and emerging markets are ‘professionalising’ their workforces and looking to the UK to benchmark educational standards. The undertaking of CPD is now increasingly expected of any individual employed within today’s global marketplace.

    CPD Certificates

    We can provide a certificate for all our accredited events. To request a CPD certificate for a conference , workshop, master classes you have attended please email events@smi-online.co.uk

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