On the 28th of November Karolinska Institutet will organise Stockholm Life Science Conference 2022. This year the conference has the subtitle “Life Science 2.0: Reframing Life Science in the wake of COVID-19”.
We look forward to welcome keynote speakers such as:
- Mikael Dolsten, chief scientific officer, Pfizer
- Leif Johansson, chairman, Astra Zeneca
- Uğur Şahin, chief executive officer, BioNTech
- Noella Bigirimana, deputy director general, Rwanda Biomedical Center
I would like to take the opportunity in this blog post to re-examine the concept of life science and explain why it is important to apply the lens of the pandemic. With the ultrarapid production of new vaccines and treatments the pandemic showcased the power and success of the life science sector in a situation where urgency required industry and academia to collaborate and deliver. At the same time the pandemic unveiled gross inequities and disparities that the life science sector should seek to reduce before the next crisis hits. When looking ahead, a seamless collaboration between industry, academia and government is once again necessary. Now we need a long-term perspective aiming at securing more equitable access to the fruits of science in resource poor settings that currently lack appropriate production facilities and robust health care systems. This long-term and equity perspective is embedded in our concept “universal preparedness for health” which is what Life Science 2.0 is all about.
Thus, the goals of the conference can be summarised as follows:
- To identify the success factors that brought new vaccines, medicines, and treatments to the market and health care sector at an unprecedented speed
- To highlight the importance of seamless collaboration between industry and academia
- To discuss how industry, academia and the entire life science sector can take responsibility for making us better prepared for the next pandemic or health crisis by addressing and reducing the blatant health inequities that were unveiled and exacerbated by the current pandemic
- More specifically, to delineate strategies to launch clinical trials and establish production facilities for vaccines and medicines in regions and continents that are currently left behind
- To reflect on the “third mission” of universities which implies that the knowledge we generate should be put to good use for the society at large.
- To explore how the life science sector could unite and intensify its efforts to curb the carbon footprint, nurture a healthy environment, and maintain biodiversity and, in this way, help realize the goals embedded in UN´s Agenda 2030
According to one definition, life science is “an interdisciplinary branch of research that deals with the study of biological life and the internal and external conditions for continued life”.
Life science is thus the science of all living things, how they function, interact, and affect their surroundings. It can also be about surviving an illness, increasing average life expectancy, or protecting biological diversity.
Unfortunately, the “continued life”-aspect is often missing from regional or national strategies for life science. The same is true of the global perspective. Often the focus is solely on becoming “best in the world”, and on economic growth rather than global health.
Strengthen the entire value chain
Referring to the definition above, it is time for a discussion of how the life science sector can reinvent itself to protect the health of future generations. To reduce inequities and build preparedness even in low-income countries, we must strengthen the entire value chain, from education and capacity building to drug and vaccine production and distribution, with due attention to the need for regulatory competence and a viable market.
The academic world’s involvement in this endeavor should be seen as part of its “third task” – to help ensure that the knowledge we generate is put to good use for the society at large.
During the pandemic, new and effective modi operandi between academia, industry, funders, and the healthcare sector were created quickly and out of necessity. The success of this approach should not only inspire a faster implementation of research into new products, but also contribute to promoting national and regional life science strategies that are aligned with the UN Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is at the core of what we call Life Science 2.0 and a starting point for the conference on the 28th of November.
The conference on the 28th of November will be a prelude to Sweden’s EU presidency in the first half of 2023, during which KI will arrange or co-arrange a number of activities and events to profile the life science sector and highlight the role of universities in ensuring better health for all.
Stockholm Life Science Conference 2022: information and social media
I wish you a warm welcome to the conference on 28 November, at 9.00-13.00. Read more and register here.
Visit the following webpages to find out more about the conference: