About us

About us

The International Society for Neurochemistry (ISN) is a nonprofit membership organisation and the only international society focused on neurochemistry. With a proud history dating back to its establishment in 1965, ISN strives to promote all relevant aspects of molecular and cellular neuroscience

How we Work

ISN supports the neuroscience community, connecting people around the globe and across specialties.

ISN members are scientists and physicians who are active in the field of neurochemistry, cell and molecular neuroscience or related areas and aims to facilitate the worldwide advancement of neurochemistry and related neuroscience disciplines; to foster the education and development of neuroscientists, particularly of young and emerging investigators, and to disseminate information about neurochemistry and neurochemists’ activities throughout the world.
Journal of Neurochemistry
ISN publishes The Journal of Neurochemistry (JNC) (Impact Factor 4.609), one of the leading sources for research into all aspects of neuroscience, with a particular focus on molecular, cellular and biochemical aspects of the nervous system, the pathogenesis of neurological disorders and the development of disease-specific biomarkers. In 2017 JNeurochem was ranked #57 among 261 journals in the category Neurosciences (2016: #65 among 258 journals) and #56 among 292 journals in the category Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (2016: #77 among 286 journals). In 2017 we received 37,022 cites which makes us #36/543 in terms of total citations in the fields of Neuroscience and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology.

Chapter 1 - Before the Beginning

The ideas and concepts of the ancients, through to the anatomists and physiologists of the 17th. and 18th. Centuries which provided the foundations for man’s motives in understanding the metabolism of nervous systems, and the more biochemical approaches in the 19th. Century, have been detailed in Donald Tower’s most enjoyable and scholarly historical articles (Tower, 1958, 1981). Indeed for anyone interested in the development of the subject, these are highly recommended.

Chapter 2 - The Beginning

There were many unrelated threads which contributed to the eventual fabric of the I.S.N. In addition to the activities of the M.H.R.F. (from 1949) and the World Federation of Neurology (W.F.N., established in the 1950s), the first International Congress of Biochemistry (forerunner of the International Union of Biochemistry, I.U.B.) was also held in 1949 in London and included neurochemical contributions. Discussions amongst Japanese scientists at a meeting in 1958 led to the formation of the first neurochemical society, the Japanese Society for Neurochemistry, in 1962.

Chapter 3 - Relations between I.S.N. and other Societies

As noted above, well before the formation of I.S.N., neurochemistry had had representation in the meetings of organizations such as the Mental Health Research Fund (M.H.R.F.) established in 1949, the World Federation of Neurology (W.F.N.), established in the mid 1950s, and the International Brain Research Organization (I.B.R.O.) from the early 1960s.

Chapter 4 - Growth of Neurochemistry as a Scientific Discipline

Some measure of the growth of the subject as an independent scientific discipline can be seen in the increase in membership of I.S.N. (Fig. 1) and in the increase in the pages published in the major journals devoted specifically to neurochemistry (Fig. 2).

Chapter 5 - Finances

The income of the society originally depended solely on members’ subscriptions, and after the agreement with Pergamon in 1970 this was supplemented by some £400 per annum until 1974. The contribution from Pergamon’s assessment of the Society’s share of journal profits fluctuated over the years from 1975 to 1980 and was usually between £3,000 and £10,000 (Fig. 3).

Chapter 6 - I.S.N. as a Professional Business Organization

After completing his term as Chairman of the Nominating Committee in 1979, Victor Whittaker offered to organise the Membership Directory on a computerised basis. As noted above (Section 4) the precise membership was uncertain, so a considerable amount of correspondence was required to organise it satisfactorily. During his period as Secretary, he expended much energy in putting the Society’s operations onto a sound professional, business footing, with rigorous attention to maintaining the membership list and to the publication of attractively-produced I.S.N. News and the Membership Directory.

Chapter 7 - Further ISN Initiatives

The improved structure and financial state enabled the Society to create the numerous small Subcommittees, listed in Table 3. The first Subcommittees were the Clinical Committee (set up in 1967 for liaison with Clinical Neurochemists – since lapsed, see above), Membership Committee (1971) and the Nominations Committee (1975, for elections of Officers and Council Members).

Chapter 8 - Journal of Neurochemistry: Trials And Tribulations - and Success!

Robert Maxwell moved from his native Czechoslovakia to the U.K. at the outbreak of the Second World War. He served as an intelligence officer with the British Army, and so was quick to anticipate the post-war expansion of science described above, created Pergamon Press shortly after the war and published many of the early international neurochemical symposia, listed in Table 1.

Chapter 9 - The Historians and the Archives

The I.S.N. Council decided in 1976 that it was time the society had an historian and asked the Secretary at the time, Jordi Folch-Pi, to take it on. He was formally appointed to the position in 1977 and served the society by writing its first history (Folch-Pi, 1980), and by starting the collection for the archives. After his untimely death in 1979, he was succeeded by Abel Lajtha in 1980, who served in this capacity until 1983, when Henry McIlwain took over.

Chapter 10 - The Future

It is interesting, and at first sight surprising, that over the years the numbers of active participants at our bienniel meetings have remained static at around 700-900 when membership numbers and the growth of the subject have been steadily increasing. The reasons for this may be partly related to the fact that the numbers of scientific meetings have multiplied to the extent that we have to be increasingly selective in deciding which meetings to attend if we are to spend any time at the bench.

Chapter 11 - Literature

Bachelard, H.S. (1988). A Brief History of Neurochemistry in Britain and of the Neurochemical Group of the British Biochemical Society. J. Neurochem. 50, 992-995.
Elliott, K.A.C., Page, I.H. & Quastel, J.H., eds. (1955). Neurochemistry. Thomas, Springfield.
Folch-Pi, J. (1980). A brief history of the Society, ISN Membership Directory for 1980.
Himwich, H.E. (1951). Brain Metabolism and Cerebral Disorders. Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore.
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