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“Who, if not us?”

In 1983, Else Kröner set up the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung. A charitable institution, dedicated to the promotion of medical science, especially in the fields of research and treatment.

‘If not us, who else will fund this much needed work’? This was one of the questions that drove Else to do what she did. And one which she sought to fulfill by generating significant and much lauded grants for medical research.

Since then the organisation has become a major funder and a very important player. And in 2013 it launched an international research prize: the Else Kröner Fresenius Preis für Medizinische Forschung.

This prize is dedicated to a different field of medical research every four years. Specifically, one that promises particular progress in the near future.

For this reason, we were obviously very excited to hear that in 2017 it will be awarded in the area of mental health. Four million Euros will be granted to a researcher whose work is dedicated to uncovering the biological basis of psychiatric disorders. 

The prize marks a major milestone for mental health research.

Firstly, because of the optimistic tone that it sends out. This prize is chosen by a prestigious group of experts, including Nobel prize winners and editors of leading scientific journals. They have chosenmental health as the most promising field for groundbreaking discoveries.

When it comes to mental health, hope of improved understanding, quicker diagnosis and better treatments has always seemed a distant dream. This is changing. We’re in the golden age of brain research. Borne by increased knowledge and better technologies, day by day we’re learning more about the brain. Which gives real hope for progress.

But the prize also excites us because, secondly, it sends a signal that major EU research funders are focusing on mental health.

The question asked by Else Kröner was “If not us, who else?” Unfortunately, as EU mental health research funding levels show, the answer for too long has been ‘no-one’.

In the UK, 1 in 4 people will have a mental health condition every year. But just 5.8% of health research spending goes towards this area. Across Europe, levels of research funding do not meet the scale or impact of mental illness on individuals or society. These trends cannot be addressed by Governments alone. Particularly at a time of shrinking budgets.

It is why MQ was set up in 2013 – to help fill this gap. Raising much needed money from the general public to fund the best and brightest researchers across the world. But we can’t do it by ourselves. 

Seeing organisations like the Else Kröner-Fresenius Foundation picking up the gauntlet and prioritising and funding research in this area is something we welcome greatly. And it provides hope that we can start to build real momentum towards making mental health research the global priority it needs to be.

 More information on the Prize: The Award will be 4 million Euros of which 500,000 Euros will be awarded to the winner personally and 3,5 million Euros will be dedicated to the winner’s future research. The deadline for nominations is 14 January 2016. Nominations should be for a researcher in the midst of their academic career. The award ceremony will take place in June 2017. Click here for the call for nominations.

Last updated: 2 June 2016

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