It has taken over two years and a pandemic for the various scientific teams of ISGlobal to meet again, face to face, at its annual scientific conference, which took place at Cosmocaixa Barcelona, with the support of the "la Caixa" Foundation, on July 5. With more than 230 attendees, 13 scientific presentations and an inspirational talk, the conference demonstrated the good health of ISGlobal's research, both that related to COVID-19 and that conducted in the context of its various research programs and the Severo Ochoa grant.
There is no doubt that 2021 was a very productive year. This was pointed out by Antoni Plasència, ISGlobal's General Director, at the opening of the conference, as already evidenced in the 2021 Annual Report. Such scientific achievements, for Denise Naniche, ISGlobal's Scientific Director, are not possible without "respect, trust, kindness and a bit of fun".
More than a scientific retreat, also an emotional reunion
With the last scientific meeting in 2019 feeling so far away, much was expected for this edition. "We planned it to be not only a scientific exchange, but also an emotional reunion," explains Judith Garcia-Aymerich, who co-organized the day together with Quique Bassat, and who considers they achieved this goal. As for the scientific talks, she adds, we wanted to showcase some very different examples of the whole range of topics and disciplines covered by the institution's research programmes. "In no case did we want to be exhaustive, but rather to give a few highlights, to talk both about results and new projects, and to do so in an agile and entertaining way," adds Quique Bassat.
In the morning, in a session moderated by Maribel Casas, some of ISGlobal's contributions to COVID-19 research in fields as diverse as immunology, epidemiology, climate, prevention, translation and communication were presented. Azucena Bardají then moderated a block dedicated to research "beyond COVID" in which projects related to malaria prevention in pregnancy; injury risk prediction in sports; climate change adaptation and mitigation in health; urban health; environment and child health; strengthening the response to HIV and viral hepatitis during the pandemic; and observing health outcomes with high spatiotemporal resolution were presented.
In the afternoon, Oriol Quintana, Professor of Ethics and Bioethics at IQS Ramon Llull University, promoted reflection and debate with the talk "The Sloth", through which he highlighted some parallels between Christianity and Humanism in terms of the dangerous, self-inflicting search for perfection, progress and constant improvement, from which only some degree of sloth can save us. The music of Marc Dantuvi enlivened so much thinking and, to the rhythm of rumba catalana, science danced and said goodbye to the day.