The 64th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting was opened today in Lindau, Germany. 37 Nobel laureates and more than 600 selected young scientists from around 80 countries will be taking part in the week-long meeting. The programme is devoted to the Nobel Prize discipline of Physiology or Medicine, with an emphasis on areas such as the body's own immune system defences against infection, advances in cancer research and intelligent drug research.
"The high number of Nobel laureates attending - bordering on a new record - shows how much value they attach to inspiring and motivating the next generation," commented Countess Bettina Bernadotte af Wisborg, President of the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. In her opening address she emphasised that dialogue lies at the heart of the meeting, with the intention that an open and personal exchange of views between generations should provide a source of inspiration.
German Federal Minister of Research Johanna Wanka welcomed the participants on behalf of the German Federal Government. She described the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings as an opportunity for encounters: "The function of Lindau is above all to facilitate the exchange of ideas - precisely the kind of exchange that brings new and decisive momentum to science and helps to advance research." She was also delighted that, for the first time, the number of female young scientists exceeded that of their male counterparts. Thousands of undergraduates, doctoral students and post-docs worldwide had applied to attend the meeting.
The Deputy Minister President of Bavaria, Ilse Aigner, also praised the event: "Lindau is where the world's best in their individual disciplines come together. Time and again, the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings show that science and research are not an end in themselves, but a service to society."
Hansjörg Wyss of Switzerland was admitted to the Honorary Senate of the Foundation Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. Foundation Chairman Wolfgang Schürer praised his outstanding merits both as a businessperson and as a philanthropist. Mr Wyss joins a group of distinguished individuals, including Angela Merkel, José Manuel Barroso, and Bill Gates who share a particular commitment to the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.
The start of the meeting also coincides with the launch of ARD-alpha, Germany's first national public service educational TV channel, which began its existence as BR-alpha, the education channel of Bayerischer Rundfunk. As media partner to the meeting, ARD-alpha broadcasted the opening ceremony live.
To the surprise of the guests, a video message was delivered from the International Space Station (ISS). Speaking from the Columbus module 400 kilometres above the earth, German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst wished the young conference participants great success in their future careers. Their enthusiasm for research, he told them, made every one of them a "Columbus of the 21st century". At the invitation of the organisers, Gerst himself attended last year's 63rd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.
The opening ceremony concluded with an interactive presentation by the Swedish Professor of International Health at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Hans Rosling. As a prominent scientist, Professor Rosling has made a decisive contribution to the global social debate. Several million people have already watched videos on the Internet of his presentations which are accompanied by interactive dynamic computer simulations. He is also the founder of the "Gapminder" Foundation, which supports the view that verifiable data and statistics should be taken as a basis for political and economic decisions.
From Monday to Thursday, the participating Nobel laureates and aspiring young scientists will have plenty of opportunity for an intensive exchange of ideas. Numerous presentations, discussions, master classes and panel discussions are on the agenda. The event ends on Friday, 4 July, at the invitation of the State of Baden-Württemberg, with a cruise to the Island of Mainau on Lake Constance, where the conference will conclude with a panel discussion on the subject of "Science for the Benefit of Mankind", and a farewell to the participants.
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