Infectious diseases: Challenges, threats and responsibilities
Did the conference meet your expectations by effectively addressing the themes and topics of the programme?
"I was positively surprised by the way the presentations were brought forward. Honestly, I didn't know what to expect from the conference due to the fact that I am a student and I don't have the scientific background. The topics were brought forward by the speakers in a very clear and easy to understand way."
"It brought me up to date with the development efforts for the major killers, even though I had appreciated a little more on TB. What I missed though was the dialogue with representatives from black Africa and India presenting their view and perspectives on "their" diseases."
"No one addressed the big influence of the church's official position on eg the HIV spread."
"What has to be changed in education, i.e. how do we get people off the "it does not concerne me" mentality."
"There was too much of "the educated northener" talking about the third world, rather than scientists out of the third world. One white man from South Africa is hardly sufficient."
"I was somehow surprised that the speakers gave so much overall information and didn't talk go into specific issues/details. Especially for me (as a students at the Gymnasium) this was very useful, because I could understand everything and I really learned a lot about "Infectious Diseases" and the situation in the world."
"The conference fulfilled all my expectations. I was surprised that the presentations were prepared in a way not only scientists could understand but also students."
"I don't think that it met its own expectations of communicating with the lay public. It should be organized on a larger scale and publicized openly to people who have not figured out yet that such conferences are not scientific ones. No registration fee should be charged to simple attenders, no food is needed."
"In general the themes I expected were mentioned, on the other hand there was too much redundancy conerning HIV and Malaria and not too many new results."
"It addressed the themes and topics, but the "society" was largely absent: there were almost no politicians, who (perhaps) can solve some problems, or at least explain how to do it. If they were present, perhaps they could learn some facts about the biology of diseases."
How do you think the conclusions of this meeting can best be translated into practical results?
Get more media people to attend the meeting i.e. science journalists of radio and TV stations."
"Send them, inter alia, to relevant government departments and international organisations."
"Invite teachers as multiplicators."
"You may have educated your students but you only have the implementors here who have already been brought into these ideas. HIV is a poor choice to use as an example - there are 7-9 excellent international Symposia a year, covering everything from epi, education, tools to vaccines. Perhaps a real expert would have been useful."
"Write a 1-2 page summary with recommendations, have it signed by all speakers, send to a broad spectrum of policy makers and media, spread to scientific community."
"Publication within journal and eventually a selection in a book."
"Creation of a European Infectious Disease Organisation for annual/biannual Symposia and lobbying."
"Appeal to research agencies to go back to rewrite their support programmes in view of greater significance for research and infectious disease including up to phase I clinical trials, rather than focussing on technology platforms."
"I think it is really important to go to the public with the results by means of press releases. It is important to discuss these things within universities, to make students/future scientists aware of problems outside their departments."
"Education especially universities: ethics seminars should be a compulsory part of scientific studies. '1st world' (in particular scientists): why would you work on 3rd world diseases? Science has to look beyond oneself's cancer etc."
"Bring information to the broad public and create public pressure eg on pharmaceutical companies."
"Establish research groups and companies in developing countries."
"Economics: sanction pharmaceutical companies which 'push' prices as opposed to facilitate the ones which donate drugs."
"By inviting more politicians, decision-makers, journalists etc."
"I think that to a certain degree, the conclusions of the meeting already were translated into practical results as the conference went along. I just saw the scientists meeting during the breaks and spoke about the issues of the conference. Because of the meeting not being very large in participants, I think the right people already met with the right people."
"Firstly, the issues which were covered at this meeting should be much more public, because, in fact, many people don't know anything about how bad the situation and living conditions are in other parts of the world. They, of course, read sometimes something in the newspaper, but there it doesn't seem to be so serious and important. If people in Europe and the USA really had these things in their mind it would be much easier to achieve something I think."
"First of all by presenting it to the people. The normal articles in newspapers aren't enough to understand what is happening in the 3rd world. The presentations in the conference showed the whole truth about the poverty and suffering of the people."
"Opinion formation and public pressure in and through the media, directed at politicians and pharmaceutical firms; address a larger public (via radio, TV, documentaries/soaps etc). Proposal: tax reductions for companies which make vital pharmaceuticals available to Developing Countries free or at strongly reduced prices."
"I think it would be helpful if the conclusions would become more public, that more people have the possibility to get this information. I think most people don't even know how critical the situation and the consequences of such diseases are."
"Organizing a similar meeting for students at several universities (perhaps on a smaller scale)."
"A similar meeting for students in developing countries (perhaps sponsored by a phramaceutical company?)"
"A one page summary should be sent to poilicy makers in the EMBO member states. A meeting like this should include more policy makers."
"The health departments of the major donors (Gates, etc) should be invited, as their money determines health projects."
"By making links between research in the developing world and the developed world."
"There should be more network projects between researchers in developed and third world countries to make it easier to understand the problems of different societies concerning projects, funding etc."
"The conclusions must really be made public, by means of mass media, lectures in museums, universities, and more importantly even though it will be more difficult: by contacting educational authorities, so that they include these conclusions in what children learn at school."
"Wrong people here, should be politicians hearing this."
"Increase audience - we spend too much time saying the same things to each other. Few in the group are going to disagree with making the world a better place."
"Increase pressure on all levels on policy makers, to prioritize infectious diseases."
"Go out to the public, inform, discuss, raize awareness through all possible channels."
"No, because there was no provision in the agenda for the meeting to propose concrete follow-up. Send the proceedings to Medical School Deans and Federal Donors. Organize a "highlights" video. Disseminate the message."
Do you have any suggestions with regards to themes you would like to see taken up for the next Science and Society conference?
"Themes related to agriculture, food, hunger, obeasia, anorexia. 1st vs. 3rd world problems about a same topic."
"Introduction to how genomics can be applied to tropical disease research."
"Animal and plant infectious disease: challenges, threats and responsibilities."
"Global population (overpopulation, migration, mega-cities, shrinking of population in Europe: social, biological, agriculatural, political implications)."
"Continue the same – but limit to 1-2 subjects, use one as an example for the whole range."
"Global food security, including agricultural production system, regional autonomy, food safety."
"Agriculture of the future."
"Drug (alcohol and Nicotine) abuse in developed countries: threats and perspectives."
"Economy and society: capitalism after the cold war imperialism: is there any future for the social state?"
"How do we improve scientific research in developing countries?"
"Is science subject to "fashion"? (eg apoptosis etc.) Should it be like this? Can basic, public-funded research be independent in the sense that it deals with globally relevant topics (like infectious dieases)?"
"I would suggest to take up environmental and lifetstyle themes like our civilization causing cancer and our opportunities to treat it as well as to prevent it."
"Transgenic crops and livestock."
"I would like to listen to a microbiological presentation."
"Confidence in/credibility of sciences (Peter Weingart prof. Soz. TSbingen?); Science and Technology = replacement of human work by machines? Is science/Technology a job-killer? What could we do about it? (Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe, Inct. f. TA u. Systemanalyse); teaching natural sciences: problems, priorities, methods/aids."
"Specific progress/work done in specific countries, eg. a presentation on AIDS in India or Sleeping Sickness in Angola etc."
"Planetary demographics, cities with 20 million inhabitants."
"Generic drugs, patents, research in the free market era."
"Genome project: follow-up, proteomics, SNPs."
"Pollution of environment and effect on our bodies."
"Biotechnological applications (gene therapy, other medical uses, genetically modified food, biomining, production of plastics, residues treatment)."
"Evolution and extraterrestrial Life (although more than molecular biology is needed to properly cover these issues)."
"Food, nutrition and biotechnology."
"International Science Education - are we succeeding or failing to train the next generation to grapple with the biggest challenges?"