The ReDLat Annual Meeting: From Buenos Aires to Hope

Atlantic Fellow and GBHI Faculty Member Agustín Ibáñez reflects on the 2024 ReDLat Annual Meeting—not just a gathering of minds but a beacon of hope and collaboration for advancing brain health research in Latin America.

RedLat Annual Meeting 2024 Group

Participants gather for the 2024 ReDLat Annual Meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

As the early morning sun cast its golden hues over Buenos Aires, I found solace in the quiet corner of a bustling café. La Ciudad de la Furia (as we call Buenos Aires), enveloped in sweltering heat and humidity, seemed to pulsate with the rhythm of an Argentine socio-economic crisis that touched every street corner and every conversation. Yet, amidst this, I felt an undeniable inspiration and nostalgia for this city that was once my home.

It was the eve of the 2024 ReDLat Annual Meeting, an event that promised to be a unique moment for brain health in Latin America. Despite the challenges outside the café's tables, anticipating what would come at this year's gathering filled me with a refreshing sense of purpose. This was not just another academic meeting; it was the first stage for hope and progress, as well as the resilience and collaborative spirit of the scientific community of the fourteen Latin American sites connected by the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) to face dementia in the region.

Mirroring the distinctive melodies of tango whispered through the air, the ReDLat Annual Meeting unfolded on the 1st and 2nd of February. This gathering emerged as a driver of innovation and collaboration. The meeting drew together the minds behind the ReDLat leadership alongside coordinators and representatives from a constellation of institutions, bolstered by the GBHI, the Latin American Brain Health Institute (BrainLat) at the Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, and our host site, the Cognitive Neuroscience Center (CNC) at the Universidad San Andrés.

GBHI Members Gather at the 2024 ReDLat Annual Meeting
Risk Factor Scale at the 2024 ReDLat Annual Meeting

Left: GBHI community members gather at Universidad San Andrés for the 2024 ReDLat Annual Meeting; Right: a scale that represents modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors for dementia on display at the Palacio Barolo in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Photo on right by Alex Kornhuber, Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health.

Multiple Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health (Adolfo Garcia, Alex Kornhuber, Elisa Resende, Hernando Santamaría-García, Maira Okada de Oliveira, Sebastian Moguilner, Stefanie Piña Escudero, Sol Fittipaldi) and faculty (Jen Yokoyama, Sarah McDonough, Shireen Javandel, Victor Valcour), data managers (Marcelo Maito, Guido Rocatti, Hernan Hernandez), as well as more than 45 site investigators and researchers, worked together with excellence in the organization team lead by Eugenia Godoy, and her team (Catherina Dhooge, Rodrigo Ortega, Francisca Cabello, Alejandra Davidziuk, and Alejandro Bateman).

This meeting united 100+ ReDLat members from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and the US to discuss our four-year progress, including 160+ publications, a large cohort with multimodal data, and a robust network of researchers that learned to survive the pandemic and the continuous regional instabilities. We also met to envision the ReDLat2, an ambitious follow-up project addressing diversity in terms of genetic and environmental factors to develop tailored models of brain health and dementia for Latinos. Then, we kicked off three groundbreaking R01 projects (funding provided by the National Institutes of Health in the United States), assessing natural language, circadian disbalances, and social epigenomics in the ReDLat cohort. These initiatives represent a bold step forward in advancing research and development within the consortium, aiming to contribute to the region's broader field of brain health.

Agustin Ibanez speaking at the 2024 ReDLat Annual Meeting

Above: Agustín Ibáñez speaks at the 2024 ReDLat Annual Meeting. Photo by Alex Kornhuber, Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health.

As the agenda progressed, the scientific work left the closed rooms and spilled over into the public sphere. The event's grand finale was a captivating public exhibition and an artistic showcase at the iconic Palacio Barolo. This architectural marvel, steeped in history and standing as a blend of European and native influences that define Argentina, became the scenario for connecting science and society. It was an invitation to the broader community, drawing in over 140 attendees, including leaders from the neuroscientific community, the public sector, and non-governmental organizations, to engage with the work of the ReDLat. The event at Palacio Barolo was an interactive journey that allowed the public to glimpse the ReDLat research together with artistic pieces targeting dementia and memory and, finally, a community-based discussion of current challenges for Latin America.

During these two days, the ReDLat Annual Meeting knitted closer the threads of collaboration across institutions and countries, reinforcing a commitment to engage patients and the public in the quest for the science of dementia. In the face of multiple ongoing challenges, this collective effort is a reminder of the role of science in fostering a healthier, more prosocial community. Amid the backdrop of Argentina's dynamic landscape, the meeting celebrated progress, shared goals, and dreams for brighter brain health in Latin America.

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