Improving Global Health is a fundamental challenge, in which science and technology play important roles. Whether it is ultra-fast sequencing of whole genomes, mRNA vaccines or gene editing: Recent innovations could change and improve the life of millions of people around the world. But only if science can make it out of the lab and into the field. The experts in this Falling Walls Circle Plenary Table discuss how to do it right.
“Innovation happens where technology connects”, says Uğur Şahin, Co-Founder and CEO of BioNTech. He and his team were among the first to develop a vaccine against SARS-CoV2, using mRNA technology that draws from various different technologies. For Şahin, a key factor is to create new connections and interfaces between different fields of research and applications.
Transparency and risk: The battle for improved Global Health
It is also crucial to quickly move from fundamental research to applied research, using public funding and industry connections. “Being a scientist is a constant fight”, admits Nobel Prize winner Emmanuelle Charpentier. To translate basic science into feasible applications requires persistence that can be intimidating, especially for young and upcoming scientists. While working on the discovery of CRISPR-Cas9, Charpentier and her team profited heavily from knowing the right people that put trust in her work.
At last, it is necessary to find the right “trigger points in society”, as our experts put it. Applications like genome editing, which had once been frowned upon, are now considered an important tool to improve Global Health. Transparency, speed and the willingness to take risks are required for both science and funding. After all, the next real breakthrough might be discovered right now. So why not try to translate it into an actual medical application?