Impact of Molucelar Biology


Opening the Symposium

Prof. Jakob Nüesch, ehemaliger Präsident der ETHZ und Initiator dieses Symposiums, eröffnet die Veranstaltung.

Über 70 Personen aus dem Europäischen Raum aus Wissenschaft, Wirtschaft, Politik und Gesellschaft nahmen am Symposium über den Einfluss der Molekularbiologie auf die Biotechnologie und die Gesellschaft in der Semper Aula der ETH Zürich teil.

Looking back and forth: Exploration and Cultural Value of Scientific Knowledge

Nobel laureate Professor Werner Arber of the University of Basel presented a review of developments in molecular biology and their impact on science.

In his presentation, he demonstrated the correlations of scientific achievements from von Miescher’s findings in 1874 to DNA analysis

Professor Arber pointed to their influence on technological and economic development as well as their impact on society and on political decisions.

Medical Field: Achievements and Visions

In his presentation on the most important scientific achievements, Professor Stylianos E. Antonorakis of the University of Geneva demonstrated how human genomes were decrypted bit by bit.

He discussed the advantages modern medicine was able to gain from this at what it means for each person.

But Professor Antonorakis also showed where open questions still remain in ethical, social, and legal areas, which need to be clarified quickly.

Immunology: Achievements and Visions

In the morning’s last presentation, Professor Antonio Lanzavecchia of the Istituto di Recerca in Biomedicina in Bellinzona used the example of vaccinations and cell biology to explain the results achieved by scientific research in the area of immunology in the past 50 years.

Professor Lanzavecchia also addressed the role of the market and the legal aspects in the context of research..

Agriculture: Plant Breeding

After lunch, Professor Wilhelm Gruissem of ETH Zurich explained the looming food shortages due to demographic developments through 2050.

Yields will already have to be considerably increased by 2020 to avoid possible global famine.

In order to guarantee food security in the longer term, innovative research, efficient breeding and new technologies, also including genetic engineering, are needed today.

Technical Applications, Enzymes, Biosynthesis, Analytics

Daniel Gygax of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts fhnw in Muttenz spoke about the broad and interdisciplinary nature of research in biotechnology.

Using a new GHB tester made of straw, Daniel Gygax presented the cooperation between the various expert committees from problem identification to marketable product.

Ethics: Chances and Risks

Professor Klaus Peter Rippe of the University of Karlsruhe discussed the ethical risks and opportunities of molecular biology and biotechnology.

In his presentation, Professor Rippe argued that careful consideration should be given to both opportunities and risks of technologies.

But it is morally wrong to just completely ignore the opportunities.

New Technologies: Chances and Risks

In the last presentation before the concluding plenary discussion, Marie-Valentin Florin of the International Risk Governance Council in Lausanne discussed the risks and opportunities of new technologies.

Ms. Florin showed the interdependencies between risk assessment, economic appeal of the results from research and development as well as the relevant public education through communication.

Plenary Discussion

A lively discourse developed between the audience and the speakers and other guests like Susanne Hochuli, Landammann (Chief Political Officer) of the Canton of Aargau, and Professor Peter Rieder, ETH Zurich during the concluding plenary discussion.

Closing Remarks

At the conclusion of the conference, Dr. Dominik Galliker, Vice President of Academia Engelberg Foundation, thanked all the speakers for their excellent presentations.

A birthday surprise followed for Professor Jakob Nüesch, former President of ETH Zurich and initiator of this symposium: a very personally designed book.

Nine close ‘traveling companions‘ had prepared a contribution about their time together.

Former President of ETH, Lino Guzzella, also congratulated Professor Nüesch on his constant commitment to research and science.

Donators and Partners

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