The Falling Walls Conference brings top researchers from around the world to Berlin


Date:      Saturday, 9 November 2019
Venue:    Radialsystem V, Holzmarktstrasse 33, 10243 Berlin


Berlin, 24 October 2019. For the eleventh consecutive year, the Falling Walls Conference will bring 20 international top-class researchers working in the natural sciences, humanities, business and technology to Berlin to describe their latest breakthrough findings and their global impact in just 15 minutes each. Taking place on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and led by the question “Which are the next walls to fall?”, the conference fosters an interdisciplinary, cross-border exchange between science and society in order to address pressing issues. For example, two years ago, Nobel Laureate Esther Duflo presented her work on identifying effective approaches to reducing global poverty. This year’s speakers cover a range of topics, including the global challenges of mental illness, the study of climate change in the Arctic and the first image of a black hole.

Mental illnesses cause great damage across the globe – according to WHO, around one out of three adults worldwide suffers from depression, anxiety disorders or other illnesses. While, mental illness can be reliably diagnosed and treated in industrialised countries, mentally ill people in developing countries often face a lack of medical services, cultural taboos and stigma. Dixon Chibanda, Professor of Psychiatry and Public Health at the University of Zimbabwe and Director of the African Mental Health Research Initiative (AMARI), explores and develops innovative solutions to address this issue. His Friendship Bench initiative, which aims to close the mental health services gap by training lay therapists, has garnered international attention and can be scaled up in Africa and around the world.

The Arctic is the epicentre of global climate change – nowhere on Earth is global warming advancing so fast. In order to understand the global climate system, it is necessary to collect data from remote areas, though hostile conditions make them difficult to access. Antje Boetius, Director of the Alfred Wegener Institute at the Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, will report on MOSAiC, the largest polar expedition in history. The research vessel Polarstern will spend an entire year drifting through the Arctic Ocean to collect research data. Hundreds of scientists are involved, spanning more than 70 research institutions and 17 countries.

Black holes are still one of the biggest mysteries in the universe. However, in the spring of 2019, a 200-strong team led by Shep Doeleman, an astrophysicist at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, made a historic breakthrough. By connecting radio telescopes around the world, the international Event Horizon Telescope collaboration was able to capture the first image of a black hole. At the Falling Walls Conference, Doeleman will discuss the enormous scientific significance of the new findings and outline the next steps in the project.

All speakers are available for interviews.


Speakers & Programme
The conference programme and list of speakers are available here:


Please sign up by 1 November using the following link:

Interview requests
We are happy to set up interviews with this year’s Falling Walls speakers. Please send an e-mail with your request to:

Live coverage
To open the conference to the greater public, there will be live streams and extensive coverage on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Our official hashtag is #FallingWalls19.


The Falling Walls Foundation
The Falling Walls Foundation is a non-profit organisation based in Berlin. The foundation creates international and interdisciplinary platforms and networks through its annual Falling Walls Conference, which asks each year on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall: Which walls will be the next to fall? At the conference, 20 leading researchers from around the world present their latest breakthroughs in the natural sciences, humanities, business and technology to an audience of 750 decision-makers and innovators in politics, research, industry and civil society. The Falling Walls Foundation also organises Berlin Science Week, which bring scientists from institutions all over the world to Berlin from 1 to 10 November. A further initiative is the Young Entrepreneurs in Science programme, which trains doctoral researchers to translate their research into a potential business idea. The Falling Walls Foundation is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the Berlin Senate, as well as by numerous research institutions, foundations and companies.


Press contacts
Jennifer Lehmann & Julia Knolle
Falling Walls Foundation gGmbH
Kochstraße 6/7
10969 Berlin

Tel: +49 30 60 988 39 71
Fax: +49 30 60 988 39 79

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