On October 30, the 3-day 3rd World Laureates Forum (WLF) was opened at the Shanghai International Convention Center. Basic scientific research and cultivation of young scientists have always been the focus of WLF. However, the break out of COVID-19 pandemic this year has made it impossible for scientists to skirt around this topic that had caught worldwide attention. It has become the consensus of the participating scientists to unite scientific forces to fight against the pandemic.
The fight against the pandemic serves as a model of scientific cooperation worldwide
Roger Kornberg, Chairman of World Laureates Association and 2006 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, said in his speech that we need to rely on science to address the current crisis and future pandemics, and that the joint response to the pandemic serves as a model of scientific cooperation worldwide. Scientists in universities, research institutes and industries are committed to studying viruses and exploring new diagnosis and treatment methods to prevent the spread of the pandemic. The world has never seen such a disaster, nor has it witnessed such wide scientific cooperation. The pandemic will surely be contained, and the lessons learned from it will help humans solve challenges in the future. Roger Kornberg clearly pointed out in the roundtable forum, “if we see the 20th century as an era of physics, then the 21st century is an era of biology, especially an era of human biology.”
Ryoji Noyori, Vice Chairman of World Laureates Association and 2001 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, said that no one can fight alone and that our knowledge is inseparable from the knowledge of all mankind. There will surely be scientific progress, and young people are always at the forefront of scientific breakthroughs in all times. The government and society need to encourage young scientists to love basic subjects.
Responding to COVID-19 pandemic in a scientific and rational way
During the pandemic, Zhong Nanshan, Member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, became a hero and idol for people all over the country. “To mitigate the impact of the pandemic requires an objective, rational voice and scientific methods.” Zhong Nanshan proposed that scientific methods should be adopted to deal with the pandemic, minimize its impact on human health, and save as many lives as possible, as well as to cope with the inadequate pandemic prevention and control measures in various countries caused by differences in international policies, living habits and social cognition.
“The purpose of many experts like me becoming idols is to prevent young people from following idols blindly. We should make more top scientists and Nobel laureates truly serve human society, and make science serve the public,” said Zhong Nanshan. The purpose of basic research is not to win Nobel Prize, which is like a thermometer, a long-term objective reflection of the country’s scientific development achievements, social governance, environment for scientific innovation.
Raymond Stevens, Professor of the Department of Molecular Biology and Department of Chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), said, “The COVID-19 pandemic makes the application of medicine research results more important. Although we can effectively observe organs, the observation at the molecular level remains to be further enhanced.” He hopes to use the platform of WLF to realize free access to global disease marker data and personalized treatment for chronic metabolic diseases.
Xie Xiaoliang, 2015 Albany Prize Winner, shared in the keynote speech his team’s latest research on the treatment of patients with COVID-19 by neutralizing antibodies. He said that neutralizing antibodies provides hope for curing patients with COVID-19, because they can bind to the viral S protein, thus preventing the latter from binding to human proteins. Having identified neutralizing antibodies from the plasma of recovered patients, Xie’s team mass-produced them in vitro and injected them into patients for treatment.
Pandemic prevention and control requires international cooperation
The World Laureates Forum, initiated by the World Laureates Association and hosted by CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee and Shanghai Municipal People’s Government, has been held for two years. Under the theme of “Science and Technology for the Common Destiny of Mankind”, this year’s forum was held in a combination of online and offline methods, and attended by 300+ scientists across the world including 61 Nobel laureates.
Steven Chou, 1997 Nobel Laureate in Physics, Ryoji Noyori, 2001 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Roger Kornberg, 2006 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, 2009 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Michael Levitt, 2013 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, and Randy Schekman, 2013 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine, delivered speeches on the same stage with the help of the virtual digital technology.
Facing various challenges posed by pandemic, they called on all countries to cooperate closely to overcome them, while exploring more effective ways of academic communication. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the world had been attacked by SARS, MERS, etc. But an effective response mechanism to pandemics hasn’t been established. Therefore, the prevention and control of COVID-19 pandemic requires cooperation of governments and non-governmental organizations worldwide.