ESOF 2016 topical sessions announced

Organisers of the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) 2016, held in Manchester this summer (July 24-27), have announced fourteen topical sessions which feature some of the programme’s best speakers tackling areas such as doping in elite sport, global pandemics and cyber security.

The sessions will be delivered together with over 125 main programme sessions covering nine scientific strands as well as standalone science to business and career programmes to which almost 700 speakers are expected to contribute.

Beginning the conference proper on Monday 25 July will be a session focused on gravitational waves. First detected in late 2015 and followed by a global media frenzy, gravitational waves are ‘ripples’ in the fabric of space-time that are now providing scientists with a completely new view of the Universe. The session will examine what scientists expect to learn from gravitational waves about cosmic objects and what it might mean for our understanding of the origins and future of the Universe.

Later on Monday there will be a session on global pandemics and newly-evolved varieties of diseases such as the Zika virus. The session will aim to identify the key actions that must occur to prepare, not only for Zika, but for the next recurrence of Ebola and the future emergence of new diseases. The panel will include John Watson the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England at the Department of Health; Dr Paul Stoffels, Chief Scientific Officer at Johnson & Johnson; Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow at the Global Health Council; and Sir Andrew Witty, Chief Executive Officer of GlaxoSmithKline.

Following newsworthy sessions on the bioeconomy, future of the arctic and graphene – led by Sir Konstantin Novoselov from The University of Manchester – one of the big draws on Tuesday 26 July will be a session about doping in sport. With ESOF taking place in the weeks between the European Football Championships and the Olympics in Rio, the forum will provide an opportunity to hear from international experts about the complex issues doping raises which cut across science, ethics and sport governance.

Also on Tuesday will be a session heralding the popularity of connected devices such as smart TVs and home management systems – the so-called Internet of Things – and the emerging risk that such devices could be exploited by attackers. The session will feature panellists from BT and Manchester-based information assurance firm NCC Group.

Additional topical sessions include those covering: gene editing technologies such as CRISPR which has featured heavily on the news agenda in recent months; cross-border research and European science collaboration which will be lively sessions following the EU Referendum result; and bio-inspired computing looking at the prospects that state-of-the-art machines may have on our understanding of brain function.

Commenting on the new sessions, Professor Luke Georghiou, ESOF 2016 Co-Champion and Vice-President for Research and Innovation at the University of Manchester, said: “With just over one month to go until Europe’s largest interdisciplinary science meeting comes to Manchester, I am delighted to announce our specially curated ESOF topical sessions programme which touches upon the science that many, if not all of us, fervently debate and discuss every day – from artificial intelligence to anti-microbial resistance, Zika to zoonoses. In many ways the programme perfectly embodies the spirit of ESOF; putting some of the world’s leading experts on a stage, asking them to address the urgent issues of our time and encouraging them to think about potential solutions through collaboration.”

Further details, including the full ESOF programme, can be found on the website: esof2016.eu
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