INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR FRONTOTEMPORAL DEMENTIAS (ISFTD)
The ISFTD Newsletter editors want to introduce a member of the ISFTD executive committee, what better way to start off with interviewing the President Elect of the ISFTD, Facundo Manes, Founder of Ineco Foundation.
Dr Manes grew up in a rural town of the province of Buenos Aires, at the heart of the Argentinean Pampas. Since young age, Dr Manes wanted to follow the steps of his father who was a respected country physician, which seemed the best way to follow his goal of “making the world a better place to live”. Professor Facundo Manes graduated at the School of Medicine, University of Buenos Aires, in 1992. As a medical student, he received the “Neurosciences” award, granted by the Argentine Medical Association. After he finished his neurology residency program, he received neuroimaging training at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston (USA), completed a fellowship in
neuropsychiatry at the University of Iowa (USA), and received the Young Investigator Award granted by the American Neuropsychiatric Association. He then moved from the US to the University of Cambridge (UK) where he worked as a neurologist and investigator, pursuing a Master in Philosophy and a PhD of Sciences. The culmination of these impressive achievements and experiences led Facundo Manes to found the INECO Foundation for Research in Cognitive Neuroscience and the Institute of Neurosciences at Favaloro University in Argentina. As Professor of Neurology and Cognitive Neurosciences and later President of the Favaloro University, Facundo continued working as a consultant in neurology and neuropsychology for the Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit of the Medical Research Council, Cambridge. Dr. Manes has published over 300 original scientific works and he is the past president of the World Federation of Neurology
Research Group for Aphasia, Dementia and Cognitive Disorders. He has played a central role in increasing awareness of the dementia epidemic in South America and has been distinguished with the Honorable Mention «Senator Sarmiento», the Argentinean Senate highest award, in recognition of his outstanding and invaluable service to the community. Dr Manes and his group have created the first “Behavioral Insight and Neuroscience Unit” for social protection and health policies in Latin America to foster improvements in the
most critical lifespan stages: early childhood and aging. In totality, on review of his entire curriculum vitae, one thing is clear: Facundo Manes makes an impressive contribution to medicine and science on an international level. So, it is no surprise here that he became the President Elect of the International Society of Frontotemporal Dementia (ISFTD) in 2018. Time to get to know our next member of the executive committee of the ISFTD!
What made you start doing FTD research in the first place?
At every stage of my journey in medicine and science, I have relied upon my mentors. Professor John Hodges at University of Cambridge inspired and encouraged me throughout my training in FTD. He opened my eyes, teaching me a wise and discerning approach to FTD patients and research. His mentorship and my fascination with the frontal lobes, led me to choose to subspecialize in FTD. This is an area that combines several of my academic and career interests, such as cognitive neurology, neuropsychiatry,
neuropsychology and neuroimaging.
As a clinician, how has it been seeing FTD patients in different countries and thus cultures?
Culture influences the way we think and the way we see the world. How much patients recognize symptoms and the way patients seek help are very strongly influenced by cultures and our world views. There is a cultural impact in detecting FTD symptoms early in the disease. Behavioral disturbances could be interpreted differently in different cultures. Within countries, minorities often receive differential treatment and training in diversity is key to building trust during treatment. Because FTD tends to occur in relatively young individuals who are still working and are productive members of the society, the abnormal behaviors often seen in these patients can exert a significant disruption of social networks.
What was the main reason you founded INECO and what do you hope INECO canprovide for young scientists in the future?
After my academic and professional training and work in the US and UK I returned to my country determined to develop local resources in order to raise clinical and research standards in human cognitive neuroscience. We founded INECO with the goal of becoming one of Latin America’s leading institutes in cognitive neurosciences, cognitive neurology, and neuropsychiatry. Our mission statement from the very beginning was rooted in a critical clinical-scientific commitment: to provide the best quality medical care to both neurologic and psychiatric patients and their families with a solid interdisciplinary approach, while generating state-of-the-art research in a modern, collaborative intellectual environment. With these goals in mind, INECO has made every effort to build a group of leading professionals strongly oriented towards research. We then founded the Institute of Neurosciences at Favaloro University. Our group created an ecosystem where biologists, mathematicians, and physicists work closely with neuropsychologists, psychiatrics, neurosurgeons and neurologists, investigating different topics in human cognitive neurosciences. Although this was common in America or in Europe, it was very innovative in Latin America. I am proud to say that both institutions are now considered state-of-the-art leading institutions in the field of neurosciences throughout Latin America and have become internationally recognized clinical research centers.
What do you hope people will learn from you as a mentor?
I have passion for mentoring young investigators and educating clinicians in developing countries. I hope that they learn from me that patients come first and that it is extremely important to treat everyone with the same respect. Furthermore, I hope to inspire scientific curiosity in young professionals to translate their passions into movements bigger than the individual. The greatest satisfactions in life come from applying your professional interests in the service of others.
Looking at your resume and biography, you wonder how it is possible to achieve so many great accomplishments by just one person , what are you most proud of and why?
My two passions are the neurosciences and my country. That is why, besides my academic, medical and scientific work I am constantly disseminating the value of knowledge in the Argentinian society, sharing the importance of investing in human development, mental capital, education, science, innovation, and technology as the pillars of our regional development. This endeavor requires a lot of time and effort, but I am proud to see how an increasing number of people from different backgrounds and ideologies are understanding that the wealth of a country is measured through the value of human capital, education, science and technology; which ultimately are the basis of social development.
What do you hope to achieve with the ISFTD and what is your plan to reach that goal?
My aim is to promote FTD at research, and at clinical and governmental levels from a truly global perspective. The complex dementia challenges faced by Latin-America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia have been recently highlighted. Insufficient diagnostic procedures, limited training opportunities and low awareness in FTD are pervasive in developing countries. The case of a global initiative for FTD is even more challenging than dementia in general. I genuinely believe that increasing awareness, promoting global multicentric studies and multicultural research assessment, and expanding education and clinical standards will positively impact FTD beyond the current regional limits. I think that this approach will lead to an improvement in the quality of clinical services in FTD as well as to a continuous fruitful dialogue between the local and the global perspective of FTD care under the auspices of ISFTD.
– Sterre de Boer