A new format and an updated programme

With more than 150 sessions and over 700 speakers in an updated programme, including an innovative hybrid format and distinguished international guests, ESOF is more vital and attractive than ever. New online sessions and themes have been added: Covid-19 takes the stage at ESOF2020 with a series of meetings between the scientific community and policy-makers on the implications of the Coronavirus on public health, economics and communication. For example Thomas Hartung, the world-famous toxicologist from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore will discuss the impact of the Sars-CoV-2 infection on our brain. Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, will explain why the global response to Covid-19 has been so bad. The interweaving of the production of knowledge and public information, which has been put to the test by the pandemic, will be debated by a panel of experts specialised in communication and publishing, including Sudip Parikh, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The spotlight will then focus on the dire economic consequences of the global spread of the disease.

The general presentation of ESOF remains divided into three main topical domains: the Science Programme dedicated to frontier research and its implications for society; the Science to Business Programme focusing on the relationship between science and the business world; and the Science to Careers Programme covering job and career opportunities for the future.

At the centre of the Forum’s agenda are some of today’s most urgent societal topics, including climate change and the transition to a green economy as renewable energy replaces fossil. The climatologist Filippo Giorgi, one of the authors of the first five reports on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – IPCC, is expected to attend. Other panels will focus on the impact of supercomputers and artificial intelligence on frontier pharmacological research using active principles from natural products, and on the importance of a European hub dedicated to the life sciences. There will also be sessions on pollution, technology transfer, science diplomacy and the crucial role in promoting peaceful coexistence among peoples and nations played by large-scale infrastructures such as CERN in Geneva, the SESAME particle accelerator in Jordan, or SEEIIST – the South East European Institute for Sustainable Technologies, which has recently focused on support for the treatmment of tumours based on subatomic particles.

On the subject of human capital and mobility, Brain drain, brain circulation is the title of a session on the mobility of researchers and of knowledge organised by some of the most prestigious international scientific institutes, including the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and our own Accademia dei Lincei. There will also be room to discuss how the human factor impacts the development of industry 4.0 and how to promote female entrepreneurship. A significant part of ESOF will be dedicated to startups, to technology transfer and to the next European research framework programme, Horizon Europe.

Several sessions, in collaboration with partners such as Fincantieri, will be dedicated to the blue economy, to safeguarding the sea as a resource and to sustainable maritime transport, thanks to technologies tied to the use of hydrogen.

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