First of all it was with great excitement I learnt that Dr Yoshinori Ohsumi from Japan was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine by the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet. When the news was revealed by Thomas Perlmann, Secretary of the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine and Professor at Karolinska Institutet, I was in Ohsumi’s native country Japan for the Science and Technology in Society forum (STS forum) that takes place in Kyoto. More on that further down.
Last week, Erik Näslund, the Head of KI’s Department for Clinical Sciences, Danderyd Hospital, had invited me and the CEO for Danderyd Hospital, Stefan Jacobsson, to join the Department at their retreat at Danderyd Hospital. Together we took part in a very valuable discussion which reinforced the notion that Danderyd’s Hospital has some untapped potential both in terms of education and research and that this potential probably is getting even more important as the health care arena in Stockholm is developing.
At the Science and Technology in Society forum
On Sunday morning I arrived in Japan for the Science and Technology in Society forum (STS forum) in Kyoto. This forum brings together scientists and policy makers from all over the world and aims to provide open discussions and build a network focusing on the opportunities science and technology offer to to solve the problems facing humankind. An important aspect is to resolve problems stemming from the application of science and technology. In my present role, I consider it important to take part in discussions relating to these issues in a broader global perspective.
A specific focus this year was on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations last year. The SDGs emphasize inclusive, sustainable and resilient development. At the session “Genome Engineering”, important issues relating to the application of genome editing was discussed. This included public acceptance of genetically modified food products and the difficult ethical considerations associated with therapeutic application of genome modification. The universities’ role in social mobility, progress and innovation was discussed in the session “The role of Universities”. Should students be encouraged to expand horizons to include i.e. science and humanities rather than narrowing them by homing in on limited skills? Students from the developing countries being educated abroad, how do we encourage them to return to their home country to support its development? How do we reach students from environments where academic studies are generally not pursued?
I participated on a panel under the topic “Smart cities”. As an internationally successful medical university KI competes for talent on a global basis. In this we need to provide not only attractive education and research programmes but also attractive accommodation, good conditions for local transport and international travel, areas for recreation, child care etc. These are aspects that should be supported by a “Smart city” and are topics that we also discuss together with the other universities in Stockholm and the Stockholm County Council. At dinner we got a presentation of the Space X project/company. Even after the presentation, I think I prefer to stay at the earth rather than exploring another planet. I am looking forward to further interesting discussions on Monday before returning to Sweden on Tuesday morning.