Let mankind trust science and let the world see China–the 3rd WLA Forum successfully held
Date: 2020-11-03
Source: WLA Forum
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The 3rd World Laureates Forum was successfully held in Shanghai. Photo provided by WLA Forum

“Just march toward the right goal with firm conviction, and you’ll have a very bright future–the tremendous changes that have taken place in China in the past 20 years are a testament to this.” 

On the last day of the 3rd World Laureates Forum, Alim Louis Benabid, father of “brain pacemaker” and winner of the Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award in 2014, spoke highly of the World Laureates Forum and China’s development in science and various fields in the  live-streaming video.


Laureates from all over the world gather in the cloud conference.   Photo provided by WLA Forum 

1、International scientific cooperation benefits mankind 

At present, the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging in many countries around the world, imposing restraints on the movement of people and international exchanges; the waves of unilateralism and anti-globalization are surging, and technological blockade has become a weapon to contain the development of some countries; and anti-intellectual and anti-scientific views are causing a great clamor… 

We are witnessing major changes unfolding in our world, something unseen in a century, and the whole world and all mankind are standing at the crossroads: Are we going to work together and rely on science to solve the common challenges facing mankind; or are we going to give up cooperation and just seek our own interests at the expense of others? 


A proposal for cooperation was made at the opening ceremony of the forum.  Photo provided by WLA Forum

Laureates from all over the world gave their answers to the above questions in their words and deeds. At the forum, “believe in science,” “international cooperation,” and “mankind community” are frequently used words.


Nearly 140 laureates participated in the 3rd World Laureates Forum. Photo provided by WLA Forum 

Roger David Kornberg, Chairman of the World Laureates Association (WLA) and Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry in 2006, and Michael Levitt, Vice Chairman of WLA and Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry in 2013, overcame various difficulties brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and arrived at Shanghai to participate the 3rd World Laureates Forum. They said that promoting international scientific cooperation was the original aspiration of the association and a matter within their duties. 


Roger David Kornberg (left) and Michael Levitt. Photo provided by WLA Forum

After the COVID-19 struck, Professor Hongjie Dai, a nanomaterials scientist and winner of the 2006 James McGroddy Prize for New Materials, American Physical Society, immediately got to study how his results can be applied to the diagnosis of COVID-19. “When mankind is facing a common crisis, scientists should come forward like superheroes, and shoulder the responsibility of solving problems through science and benefiting mankind,” said Dai Hongjie.

Venki Ramakrishnan, Vice Chairman of WLA, current President of the Royal Society, and Nobel Prize winner in chemistry in 2009, took a clear-cut stand: “Cooperation and internationalization maximize the effectiveness of science.” China, Europe, and the United States have taken turns in leading science development at different times in history, However, today’s science is increasingly international and cooperative in nature, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic: The world is making efforts to sequence the genome of the virus; research teams around the world are working together to study new treatment methods and potential vaccines. Venki Ramakrishnan suggested that instead of competing in vaccine research and development, countries should be encouraged to cooperate to form a global vaccine alliance, adopt parallel methods for research, and share research results.


Venki Ramakrishnan (left) delivers a speech with the help of holographic technology. Photo provided by WLA Forum

2、It makes the impossible possible

Scientific exchanges and international cooperation are the driving force behind the participation of laureates; After Michael Levitt arrived in Shanghai, he repeatedly praised the preparations for the forum. He said in an interview: “We have a very strong team in Shanghai. It is hard to imagine that they have responded to the changes (brought by the epidemic) in such a short time.”


Michael Levitt arrived at the venue in advance to wait.  Photo provided by WLA Forum

Harvey James Alter, winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, is a virus expert and has worked at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for nearly 50 years. He made a simple comparison of the prevention and control of the COVID-19 pandemic between China and the United States: “Before any vaccine is available, masks can be used as a substitute for vaccines to a large extent. I know that you are doing very well in China, and the whole society has basically returned to normal; but in the US, there’re always some people who refuse to wear masks.”


Strict epidemic prevention measures were also taken inside and outside the venue. Photo provided by WLA Forum

The speech of Franz-Ulrich Hartl, winner of the 2011 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, represented the voice of many participating scientists. He said: “Participating in the 3rd World Laureates Forum (via the cloud) is a unique experience and a great honor. My only regret is that I cannot attend the conference in person.” He was looking forward to participating in future forum activities in person after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Maybe China is the only country that has the ability to host such a great science event. The movement of people is a huge challenge, and it is almost a mission impossible. But China made it and did such a great job,” concluded Roger David Kornberg about the forum.


Roger David Kornberg at the forum. Photo provided by WLA Forum

Despite numerous difficulties, the forum still planned a variety of activities. During the three-day conference, more than 130 independent speeches by scientists and more than 70 theme summits were scheduled; nearly 140 laureates and more than 200 young scientists participated; more than 10 offline and online media group interviews and exclusive interviews were organized.


Steven Chu accepted the media interview via video. Photo provided by WLA Forum

The “Mobius Forum,” with the participation of all scientists here, broke the limitations of time and space, allowing scientists to imagine and predict the development trend of science, the universe, and mankind in the next 20 years in three minutes. This was a 42-hour “science marathon” attended by the super brains.

To focus on young scientists and promote intergenerational transition, the forum held 15 youth forums, 5 doctoral (post-doctoral) forums, and 1 future academician forum. Over 100 outstanding young scholars attended the forums. Continuing the “Tablecloth Forum” of previous editions, the forum launched the brand of “WLF Sci-T Conference.” Through dialogues between different generations of laureates, young scientists, and scientific teenagers, science education was discussed and the beauty of science was appreciated. 


Young scientist Xuefeng Jiang was interviewed by the media. Photo provided by WLA Forum

3、Plenty of results settle in Shanghai, injecting more vigor into innovation

The World Laureates Community, located in the Lingang New Area International Innovation Collaboration Zone, had a global online launch, and the permanent venue of the World Laureates Forum settled in Lingang. The community will focus on the needs of laureates and position itself as a “world-class cradle for major cutting-edge science in the new era,” and strive to build itself into a world-leading cradle for science and technology, a scientific innovation port to connect the world, and a scientific organization headquarters base for pooling global wisdom, and an offshore innovation zone with flexible mechanisms.

The World Laureates Development Foundation was inaugurated at this conference. With the support of the wisdom of the World Laureates Association think tank, the foundation will focus on the most popular and cutting-edge scientific research and the transformation of results, support and cultivate the world’s most creative young scientists and young scientist teams, promote scientific literacy education for the youth, comprehensively improve China’s scientific research and scientific education ecological construction, and serve Shanghai’s goal of building itself into a science and technology center.

The World Laureates Youth Education Alliance was established, jointly initiated by WLA Shanghai Center and East China Normal University, to actively interest youngsters in science, raise their science awareness and improve their ability to explore. Currently, 1,024 primary and secondary schools have become practice bases of WLA Science Education Alliance. The future is promising

4、A scientific feast that never ends

The 3rd World Laureates Forum is not only a gathering of scientists, but also a science lecture hall for the public. The official website of the forum provides a total of 150 hours of live video and playback concerning 71 events, all of which are open to the public online for free, and will become a never-ending science event in the cloud for all the people.

New media of CCTV News, as the official partner media of the forum, broadcast the “Big Projection for the Future 2020” special program every day, focusing on forum laureates and hot topics. Professor Justin Yifu Lin, a well-known economist from China, and Professor Zhang Wenhong, a well-known infectious disease expert were invited; Professor Rao Zihe and Professor Su Guohui, academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences; Professor Xiaoliang Sunney Xie from Peking University, winner of the 2015 Albany Medical Center Prize, Professor Li Weidong from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Professor Zhang Bomin from Shanghai Ruijin Hospital, etc., talked to online laureates and made in-depth interpretations and report in the three-day special program on topics such as global prevention and control of the pandemic, economic trends in the post-pandemic era, neurodegenerative diseases, and brain-computer integration with cutting-edge technology. The “Meet Laureates” program was a dialogue between a CCTV host and Professor Roger David Kornberg, Chairman of the World Laureates Association and Professor Michael Levitt. The #the 3rd World Laureates Forum# was among the most searched hashtags on the opening day of the forum, and the page views have exceeded 300 million. The initiator of the forum, the World Laureates Association joined hands with China Media Group Shanghai central station to organize the first Shanghai International Media Port “Science Carnival,” inviting global laureates, well-known Chinese academicians, young scientists, and amateur teen scientists to participate. Interesting exchange activities such as “Young Scientists,” “Master Sharing Session,” “I Am a Teen Scientist” interactive exhibition and others were launched to popularize science.


“Science in Film and Television” Master Sharing Session  Photo provided by WLA Forum

The forum has strategically cooperated with influential new media platforms such as Toutiao and Bilibili to promote scientific communication through diverse forms. It also conducted an innovative collaboration series  program with Toutiao “Ask the Scientist 2020” During the forum, the first session of the dialogue between Yuan Lanfeng, a star in the field of popularization of science and Nobel laureate Sir Andre Konstantin Geim was released, and the views exceeded 1 million in two days.

Bilibili “Star Talk” interviewed Nobel Prize winners and Kip Stephen Thorne, producer of Interstellar, Michael Levitt, and others, inspiring young people who love science or those who don’t know much about it.


Michael Levitt was invited to be a guest by Bilibili “Star Talk.” Photo provided by WLA Forum


Some overseas media also made reports on the forum, and many laureates posted relevant news on global social networks or apps, actively promoting and spreading the spirit and achievements of the forum.

Though the three-day forum is ended;

The scientific spirit carries on;

And scientific exploration will never stop!