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Science and Life: The Boundaries of the Possible
7 June 2019
12:00—13:15
KEY CONCLUSIONS
The science’s objective is to improve people’s lives

Today, the quality of life a real problem. <…> There are 850 million people [all over the world, – Ed.] on the brink of starvation, and this number is growing. The number of people with diabetes, cancer, obesity and cardiovascular diseases is also on the rise. This is a challenge for science — Riccardo Valentini, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; Professor, University of Tuscia.

Whatever is being said [here, – Ed.] is for the sake of health and life — Victoria Badtieva, Head of Branch No. 1, Moscow Centre for Research and Practice in Medical Rehabilitation, Restorative and Sports Medicine, City of Moscow Department of Health, Professor, I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation.

What do people expect from science? Breakthroughs and discoveries. <…> But at the same time, there are lots of fears, and people expect science to save them from those fears. <…> The Russian Academy of Sciences is Russia’s most trusted institution alongside with the Russian Orthodox Church – they share the same index of trust. Why? Maybe because people are looking for soul and reason, and they believe this is where salvation is, including salvation from threats — Ruslan Novikov, General Director of Argumenty I Facty Ltd.

The world’s increasing population is a challenge for science

Borders and limitations are basically set by us, by the people. And usually people are, first of all, too stupid to resolve it, and secondly, there are too many of us. <…> Today, we are almost 9 billion people. These numbers destroy the world. Of course, from where politics stand one cannot say such things, but this is the biggest border and the biggest limitation [for science, – Ed.]. <…> How can we change it? The first thing we can do is educate. <…> We need to educate women, not men. <…> Women will not have so many children. And secondly, we should not strive to resolve every medical problem — Rolf Martin Zinkernagel, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine; Professor Emeritus, University of Zurich.

We frequently talk about climate. <…> I believe there is one issue we neglect and forget about. When I was born, we were less then 3 billion people. By the end of the century, we will be 13 billion. How are we going [to live, – Ed.]? Nobody mentions that. I think it is a more relevant problem than even the climate is — Dominique Fache, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Russian Technology Foundation (RTF); Member of the International Award Committee, Global Energy Association .

Introducing scientific achievements requires energy

The connection [between energy industry development and science development, – Ed.] is obvious. For example, 99% of space exploration is about energy industry. The level of civilization development is defined by energy industry development — Sergey Alekseyenko, Academician, Member of the Department of Energy, Mechanical Engineering, Mechanics, and Control Processes, Russian Academy of Sciences; Winner of the Global Energy Prize.

ISSUES
Need for the proper scientific toolset

The key problem is the getting the toolset. We are far behind the countries that achieve results nothing short of miraculous, because these results are driven by new and perfect toolset capable of measuring things we cannot measure — Alexander Sergeev, President, Russian Academy of Sciences.

Lack of financial and human resources

What are we dealing with? As of today, [our, – Ed.] institute has 8–10 medications that have gone through pre-clinical trial. There is not a single investor that would agree to invest a lot of money in a clinical trial. <…> We are being isolated from other countries, our scientists are isolated and lack human and financial resources — Andrey Kaprin, Director, National Medical Research Radiological Centre of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation.

[Investors, – Ed.] buy promising intellectual products that will be successfully sold without further investment in their intellectual development. But this ruins the universal image of our intellectual development — Alexander Rasumov, President, National Spa Association; Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Insufficient collaboration between science and business

Now the country has a growing need for science producing as many results as possible, but they need to be quickly applied in technology — Alexander Sergeev, President, Russian Academy of Sciences.

Another important topic for us is involving business in resolving our issues. We are good at using fundamental achievements, but then it looks like science and business move in opposite directions. It is easier for business to embrace well-known technology-based methods by combining them and creating products that are understandable but have short market life. As soon as we state that we need to come up with a new product, business stalls. <…> We pretty much do not have anyone to cover this gap between science and a prototype — Yuri Olenin, Deputy Director General for Innovation Management, State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM.

Science is not popular enough

Just a few Russian scientists are present in the public space, on the media scene. There is not enough science – be it applied, or popular, or any kind for that matter — Ruslan Novikov, General Director of Argumenty I Facty Ltd.

SOLUTIONS
Getting investors involved in science

The government does what it can. <…> Out key objective is to attract financing from industry, from hi-tech business — Alexander Sergeev, President, Russian Academy of Sciences.

Technologies can give us a solution, but this is just the first small step. The next one is crucial: we need to develop profitable application – I would like to stress it – it needs to be profitable. <…> There should be a mechanism for companies to invest and later see the return rate — Rodney John Allam, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; Member of the International Award Committee, Global Energy Association .

Today, science is not the problem. Both in Europe and in Russia. The problem is making this transition, when science turns into product. <…> This moment of technology transition – when technology leaves the lab for real life and the market – requires people of the new generation. I hope Russia has them — Dominique Fache, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Russian Technology Foundation (RTF); Member of the International Award Committee, Global Energy Association .

Why are oil and gas people ahead of everybody else? <…> Because they were the first to understand [the need of turning to scientific achievements, – Ed.]. Deposits are running low; and you either call on new technological solutions or you die — Anatoly Dmitrievsky, Chief Researcher, Oil and Gas Research Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences.

Making science more popular

It is a fact that we live in the information society. In the information society you can do it only if you are capable of the right and skillful communication. In this sense our objective to present our science and scientists in the right way is very important. There are multiple flaws in this area. And I assign most of those flaws to scientists. We are used to the situation when we do not have to advertise ourselves — Alexander Sergeev, President, Russian Academy of Sciences.

We need to set the dialogue between science and society and use popular science outlets and channels to help society understand that everything that surrounds us is defined by science. Society should set objectives for science, and science should explain society that nothing else can answer most relevant questions and resolve problems of the humanity — Andrey Adrianov, Vice-President, Russian Academy of Sciences.

Developing international cooperation

Oncology is such a discipline where one must not even think about sanctions. Those who succeeded in making several steps forward should share them – we are fighting a common enemy — Andrey Kaprin, Director, National Medical Research Radiological Centre of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation.

International cooperation is also important, because if something happens in the nuclear energy industry, it happens to everyone — Yuri Olenin, Deputy Director General for Innovation Management, State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM.

Today, our society faces such problems and challenges which we cannot solve separately from each other. That is why we need to build cooperation. <…> The new generation should come up with ways for global cooperation. This will help restore normal climate in Europe and resolve other problems — Dominique Fache, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Russian Technology Foundation (RTF); Member of the International Award Committee, Global Energy Association .

Creating innovative interdisciplinary groups

Innovative solutions do not just improve the quality of life for our patients – they take [it] to a whole new level. Here, the step from fundamental science to practice is very small. <…> The biggest objective and the biggest success here are definitely to create such innovative interdisciplinary groups — Victoria Badtieva, Head of Branch No. 1, Moscow Centre for Research and Practice in Medical Rehabilitation, Restorative and Sports Medicine, City of Moscow Department of Health, Professor, I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation.

The material was prepared by the Russian news agency TASS