René Blanchard Akre is the mother of three children, two of whom developed PANS. She is a founding member of PANS/PANDAS Nederland, which was formed to promote awareness and advocate for the development of expertise, access to care and better outcomes for those affected by PANS/PANDAS in the Netherlands. Joined by advocates from countries throughout Europe, René helped to form EXPAND, The European Immuno-neuropsychiatric Association. In conjunction with that effort, she helped recruit the founding members of the EXPAND Scientific and Medical Advisory Board, and helped establish The EXPAND Foundation.
René is committed to EXPAND’s vision in which children and adults with immune-mediated behavior and neuropsychiatric conditions obtain a timely diagnosis from informed, compassionate, health-care providers and receive individualized, transdisciplinary treatment and support regardless of the country in which they live. Towards that goal, it is a top priority to establish an international research clinic that can become a true center of expertise.
The skills and experience she brings to these initiatives were developed as a legislative assistant, as the executive director of a non-profit organization benefitting at-risk youth; and as an urban planner. What she enjoyed most in those roles, and what serves her well with EXPAND, is bringing together a broad range of stakeholders and experts to work creatively and collaboratively to solve complex issues. She enjoys the opportunity to meet interesting and talented people, to learn from them, and to create opportunities for positive change. What has also benefited her work within an international organization, is having lived in the United States, Germany, Finland, and the Netherlands. She feels fortunate to have experienced different cultures, in which she was able to connect and form friendships with people of many nationalities.
René earned her Master’s degree from the University of Michigan and her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado. She lives with her family near The Hague. She was born in Anchorage, Alaska.