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Maria Elena Torres-Padilla promotes basic research as co-chair at the World Economic Forum

Maria Elena Torres-Padilla. Source: WEF

The Annual Meeting of the New Champions (AMNC) from the World Economic Forum (WEF) is the global summit on Science, Technology and Innovation. Its 11th edition was held this year from 27th-29th June in Dalian, China.  Maria Elena Torres-Padilla, director of the IES and member of the WEF Young Scientist Community, co-chaired the meeting alongside five other leaders from the business and technology sectors. This was the first time a member of the Young Scientist Community was a co-chair.  Under this year’s theme “Achieving Inclusive Growth in the Fourth Industrial Revolution” the meeting served to unite business leaders, policy makers and scientists to ensure a future that benefits all of society.

Established by Professor Klaus Schwab in 1971, the World Economic Forum is an international organization for public-private cooperation, committed to improving the state of the world.  The meeting opened with a co-chair press conference, attended by local and global media, in which Maria Elena Torres-Padilla highlighted the importance of basic scientific research as a pillar for innovation, necessary for a successful and inclusive fourth industrial revolution. 

As co-chair Professor Torres-Padilla had an important role in shaping the meeting agenda, with her focus on highlighting the importance of basic research and funding through the research area epigenetics.  “Being asked to be a co-chair at the AMNC was a huge honour and something I was very glad to accept” said Professor Torres-Padilla “It gave me the perfect opportunity to raise awareness of the need for funding of basic research and for the need of scientists to engage with the public, two things I believe to be integral to securing scientific and technological advances in the future”.

During the press conference “Science Under Attack” organized by the European Research Council, Maria Elena Torres-Padilla, together with ERC President Jean-Pierre Bourguignon and others, discussed the importance of seeking scientific facts and establishing a two-way dialogue with the public for ensuring inclusivity in the fourth industrial revolution.  Jean-Pierre Bourguignon encouraged scientists to take the time to communicate their work and educate the public on the importance of correct scientific practice and rigor.

Professor Torres-Padilla further reiterated this stand-point during a one-to-one interview “Shaping the Future of Science” conducted by science correspondent, Joe Palca, demonstrating the importance of research centers like Helmholtz Zentrum München in promoting basic as well as translational research.  The interview can be watched in full here.

In addition, Maria Elena Torres-Padilla initiated and led a European Research Council Ideas Lab session to profile epigenetics on a global stage.  With experts and non-expert audience members welcomed alike the “Exploring Epigenetics” session highlighted the importance and scope of epigenetics research. Chaired by Vivienne Parry of Genomics England, the highly interactive session saw short talks from ERC awardees Maria Elena Torres-Padilla, Andrew Posposilik (Max Planck Institute for Immunology and Epigenetics, Freiburg, Germany) and Ueli Grossniklaus (University of Zurich, Switzerland) followed by open discussions and Q&A sessions with the audience.

The AMNC concluded with an interactive panel discussion chaired by CNBC Anchor Geoff Cutmore on “Leading a Human-Centered Revolution” in which Maria Elena Torres-Padilla contributed alongside Hao Jingfang (economist and science fiction writer), Daan Roosegaarde (artist and innovator) and Lauren Woodman (CEO of NetHope Inc). The panel discussed the importance of respecting human nature and diversity, to ensure the fourth industrial revolution benefits everyone.

Further information

  • To news piece from last year as a selected New Champion: More...
  • To learn more about the Forum and its mission: More...
  • To Q&A piece on basic research: More...
  • To WEF interviews “Shaping the future of science”: More...