Jul 11, 2019

The World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ) concluded last Friday. This bi-annual event brought together over a thousand science journalists and communication professionals from all over the world to enjoy lively parallel discussions, thought-provoking plenaries and inspiring keynotes and was an opportunity to demonstrate that the Lake Geneva region and Switzerland as a whole remains at the cutting edge in science and research.

During the WCSJ2019, Campus Biotech professors Stéphanie Lacour, EPFL’s Bertarelli Chairs of Neuroprosthetic Technology, and Silvestro Micera, EPFL’s Bertarelli Foundation Chair in Translational Neuroengineering met with conference delegates to talk about their work and to explain new neuroprosthetic technologies that were showcased at the Bertarelli foundation booths at the SwissTech Convention Center. 

On Friday, the WCSJ’s last day, journalists coming from all around the world visited Campus Biotech to discover its cutting-edge research in neuroscience and neurotechnology. 
They watched the Blue Brain Project present their advances in digitally reconstructing and simulating the mouse brain and learned how the 10-year EU FET Flagship Human Brain Project is changing the course of neuroscience research by building a research infrastructure to power a new era in computational-based research. In cutting edge labs, they discussed the latest advances in experimental neurosciences in both affective and cognitive domains (Prof. Daphne Bavelier and Prof. David Rudrauf, University of Geneva).  They explored implantable brain-computer interfaces that can monitor the brain, control robotic arms, or even reactivate paralysed limbs, through thought alone (Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering), got into a neurofeedback demonstrator to understand how functional magnetic resonance imaging and neurofeedback are combined to shape brain activity (Prof. Dimitri Van De Ville, EPFL and University of Geneva). Finally, they discovered how scientists invented spinal cord implants that allow paralysed patients to walk again (Prof. Grégoire Courtine, EPFL), saw alternative and more rapid models for drug discovery, compound safety testing and neurotoxicity (Prof. Luc Stoppini, HEPIA) and discussed about novel device materials and their associated technologies to design and manufacture soft bioelectronic interfaces  (Prof. Stéphanie Lacour, EPFL). 

In the afternoon, journalists joined the rest of the audience for the Bertarelli Symposium, organised by Professor Stéphanie Lacour. This annual meeting provided updates on collaborative projects from leading global research teams in neurosciences, mainly at EPFL and Harvard Medical School (HMS), included the participations of scientists from the four Catalyst projects, which the Bertarelli Foundation funds, as well as keynotes by Tobias Moser (University Medical Center Goettingen) and Tim Denison (Oxford University). 

After the conference, the audience moved to Campus Biotech’s main atrium for the closing ceremony of the WCSJ, which was attended by journalists from other field trips in Switzerland. The speeches from Ernesto Bertarelli, Olivier Dessibourg (President of the WCSJ 2019), and representatives of EPFL (Vice President of Education, Andreas Mortensen) and University of Geneva (Vice-Rector, Antoine Geissbuhler) closed this important day and have been followed by an urban dance performance by Flux Laboratory, in which science, dance, music, language and architecture have perfectly been combined to emphasize both the end of the Bertarelli Symposium and the WCSJ2019.