Future Medicine 2017: Brilliant Bytes
A Berlin conference delivers an insightful high-speed forecast on translational medicine
On November 7th, Future Medicine 2017 brought together top scientists from leading Berlin institutions and international partners to share cutting-edge translational medicine through a unique format. Sebastian Turner, publisher of Der Tagesspiegel, gave a welcome address calling the day a “practical experiment in neuroscience,” where the audience would experience a flood of expertise delivered in short segments, to see how it goes.
This year’s conference was also a jewel in the crown of Berlin Science Week extending from November 1–10, when international events drew people to Berlin from the world’s most innovative scientific institutions for exchange and learning. Berlin has a long and highly-esteemed reputation of scientific innovation, visible in the historic value of its research centers: Berlin Institute of Health(BIH), Charité Universitäts Medizin, and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC).
Collaboration among these institutions, together with support from Stiftung Charite and Der Tagesspiegel, propelled that legacy forward in Future Medicine 2017. Using Der Tagesspiegel’s concept of Science Match, medical expertise had the opportunity to meet policy makers; young professionals met the healthcare industry; venture capital met startups, and educators met students.
So what made this practical experiment such a success?
Ready, Set, Go!
The crazy pace of Future Medicine’s dynamic format sets this conference apart. Other than the four 15-minute keynotes, 80 speakers had just 3 minutes to convey high-level research to the audience. It gave presenters a startup-like opportunity to ‘elevator pitch’ their concepts to over 800 people.
After each session, audience members could meet with speakers at cocktail tables just outside the main hall. This encouraged interactions among scientists, politicians, health institution representatives, startups and medical students.
A New Paradigm in Translational Medicine
Translational medicine is an expanding discipline in biomedical research which accelerates discovery of new diagnostic tools and treatments. With a multi-disciplinary approach, it harnesses cross-functional collaborations (involving researchers and clinicians)and leverages new technology and data analysis to speed up the development of new treatments for patients.
Communicating this approach was central to Future Medicine. For 2017, the conference sessions presented themes showing a paradigm shift occurring across medicine, as technology like big data, AI, and 3D printing enhance bench-to bedside healthcare.
Four sessions provided the day’s framework. It’s worth watching the videos here. Here are keynote highlights and how they impact medicine:
- Precision Medicine and Predictive Models: In his keynote, Joel Dudley PhD explored moving from precision medicine to next generation healthcare. He collects information beyond the genome that defines health. His work explores the complexity of human physiology, and makes connections across diseases to create a learning health system. Taking a tip from an economist, he says we can’t understand an entire system by just looking at isolated parts. He breaks down silos to fast-forward medicine. Definitely watch his video!
- Digital Health and Big Data: Prof. Erwin Böttinger from the Hasso Plattner Institute for Digital Engineering presented a keynote on the digital transformation of healthcare. His title the “Patient Will See You Now,” indicates the patient should be in control. He picked up on themes from Dr. Dudley, urging better communication to enhance coordinated care, medication safety, and adherence. For better productivity and efficiency, we need connected data across sectors with the patient in the center. While we invest in precision medicine, we must actually close the gap to bring those advances into clinical practice. We need software that uses real-time analytics and digital intervention to support medical decision-making. He expects sensors, telemonitoring, and environmental factors to be combined with genetic information on a patient-centered, cloud-based platform to improve quality. HPI is launching a digital health center to enhance patient literacy, empowerment, and more innovation in precision medicine.
- Stem Cells and Human Disease Modeling: An introduction by Berlin’s Mayor Michael Müller discussed how Science Week offered a true exchange and dialogue to create a connection between startups, small and large business, and across industries. Berlin is a center of excellence for science, a model of cooperation among institutions, and an example of innovative health initiatives. Afterwards, Prof. Margaret Buckingham from Paris’ Institut Pasteur presented her keynote on skeletal muscle stem cell regulation during repair. She emphasized that knowing basic biology of stem cells offers important clues to improving cell therapy.
- Cell and Gene Therapies: Dr. Michaela Frye from the University of Cambridge delivered her keynote on Epitranscriptome: From RNA chemistry to translational research. She explained how understanding RNA chemistry allows us to better treat human diseases, because RNA methylation is an important biological pathway for normal development. Just one RNA modification can affect a whole population of modified RNA through a fast and independent pathway outside of the nucleus. This plays an important role for cells which have to make decisions of how to respond to stress, such as a reaction to UV or drugs.
Each keynote set the tone for the flurry of knowledge-sharing that followed. The impressive list of speakers in each of these four sessions is a testament to the orchestration necessary to make this event possible and run smoothly.
The diversity of speakers and research they explored contributed to a wealth of expertise, further reinforced by sharing across disciplines. Here are some images with insights distilled from among the 80 speakers from 9 countries:
If you weren’t there, join next year!
Accessing such a wealth of concentrated knowledge benefits all attendees. It sustains Berlin’s position as a central forum for cutting-edge science and offers a clear vision of where medicine is going. The idea behind the Science Match format is to create vital connections among people who might not otherwise meet.
Companies who participate in Future Medicine also reap great benefits: championing speakers or sponsoring a break or session increases visibility for reaching new partners and customers; involvement leads to impressionable branding from coverage by media outlets and recruitment of top talent. A scholarship program allows companies to invite students, young professionals, and startup-entrepreneurs to Future Medicine. Jury members are involved in the selection and can easily connect with participants.
Those wishing to get involved should contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hopefully see you in 2018 for continued knowledge sharing!