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GESDA's best pick from the press, web and science journals, in relation to GESDA's thematic platforms

29 January-05 February 2021

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg


> A new era for research into aging // 28.01.2021, eLife
Breakthroughs in aging-related research are revealing details of how cellular processes and tissue functions decline during aging and have pinpointed longevity factors conserved among eukaryotes. In parallel, investigations in model organisms are uncovering potential approaches to extend lifespan in humans. To highlight recent advances in the mechanistic understanding of aging and interventions that extend longevity, eLife presents a Special Issue devoted to this exciting topic. This issue presents a collection of highly influential research selected by a specially convened group of experts.

Related articles:
> Restoring metabolism of myeloid cells reverses cognitive decline in ageing // 04.02.2021, Nature

> Targeting enzyme aging (PERSPECTIVE) // 29.01.2021, Science

> Scientists may have finally figured out how to reverse aging in the brain // 30.01.2021, The Conversation

(© DR)


A human genome to celebrate: 20 years after (SPECIAL ISSUE) // 05.02.2021, Science
Millions of people today have access to their personal genomic information. Direct-to-consumer services and integration with other “big data” increasingly commoditize what was rightly celebrated as a singular achievement in February 2001 when the first draft human genomes were published. But such remarkable technical and scientific progress has not been without its share of missteps and growing pains. Science invited the experts below to help explore how we got here and where we should (or ought not) be going. Those views include:
- An ethos of rapid data sharing, more relevant than ever (by Kathryn Maxson Jones and Robert Cook-Deegan)
Lack of diversity hinders the promise of genome science (by Charles N. Rotimi, Shawneequa L. Callier, Amy R. Bentley)
Algorithmic biology unleashed (by Hallam Stevens)
- Value and affordability in precision medicine (by Kathryn A. Phillips, Jeroen P. Jansen, Christopher F. Weyant)
End the entanglement of race and genetics (by Dorothy E. Roberts)
- Genetic privacy in the post-COVID world (by Dina Zielinski and Yaniv Erlich)
- Emerging ethics in Indigenous genomics (by Nanibaa' A. Garrison and Stephanie Russo Carroll)
Polygenic risk in a diverse world (by Pilar N. Ossorio)
- Risks of genomic surveillance and how to stop it (by Yves Moreau and Maya Wang)

Related articles:
> Vingt ans de décodage du génome humain, et le mystère de notre espèce perdure // 04.02.2021, Le Temps

> 23andMe to go public via Richard Branson’s special purpose acquisition corporation // 04.02.2021, STATnews

> Africans begin to take the reins of research into their own genomes // 04.02.2021, Science

Human molecular genetics and genomics: important advances and exciting possibilities (PERSPECTIVE) // 07.01.2021, NEJM

(© DR)


> The Green Future Index // February 2021, MIT Technology Review
The Green Future Index is a ranking of 76 leading countries and territories on their progress and commitment toward building a low carbon future. It measures the degree to which their economies are pivoting toward clean energy, industry, agriculture, and society through investment in renewables, innovation, and green finance.


> Futures forum on preparedness: “Never again strategies & scientific moonshots” (VIDEO) // January 2021, organized by Schmidt Futures
For the first time in human history, a new set of genomic tools can very possibly end pandemics before they begin. Yet realizing this possibility will require a different balance between incremental and moonshot approaches than exists today in our national research and development portfolio. Hear how investment in moonshot ideas now could transform our response to health crises in the future. Speakers include: Dr. Regina E. Dugan, President and CEO, Wellcome LEAP; Dr. Eric S. Lander, President and Founding Director, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; Dr. Manu Prakash, Professor of Engineering, Stanford, Innovation Fellow, Schmidt Futures, Expert, “Frugal Innovation”; Dr. Matthew Hepburn, Vaccine Development Lead, Operation Warp Speed.


> The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review // February 2021, UK Government
The Dasgupta Review is an independent, global review on the Economics of Biodiversity led by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta (University of Cambridge). The Review has been supported by an Advisory Panel drawn from public policy, science, economics, finance and business. It calls for changes in how we think, act and measure economic success to protect and enhance our prosperity and the natural world. Grounded in a deep understanding of ecosystem processes and how they are affected by economic activity, the new framework presented sets out how we should account for Nature in economics and decision-making.


> Paul J. Crutzen, Nobel laureate who studied ozone and named new ‘Anthropocene’ era, dies at 87 // 30.01.2021, The Washington Post
Paul J. Crutzen, Nobel-winning chemist who revealed threats to the ozone layer, developed the concept of “nuclear winter” and concluded that humans were having such a profound impact on the planet that it was time to recognize a new geological epoch — the Anthropocene. Long after he helped keep pollutants out of the atmosphere through his ozone research, he made a bold proposal to flood the air with sulfur in an effort to combat global warming. Such “geoengineering” efforts were worth further study, he argued, especially if humanity did not act quickly to stem emissions and alter consumption habits.

Other obituary articles:
> Chemistry Nobelist Paul Crutzen dies // 02.02.2021, Chemical & Engineering News

> Décès de Paul Crutzen, qui fit la pluie et le beau temps dans les sciences de l’environnement // 02.02.2021, Le Temps

> Der verstorbene Nobelpreisträger Paul Crutzen erklärte das Ozonloch und wurde zum Spiritus Rector der Umweltforschung // 29.01.2021, NZZ

Related articles:
> Scientists want to fight climate change by blocking the sun with dust // 28.01.2021, SingularityHub

Dutch atmospheric chemist Paul J. Crutzen, left, receives the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry from Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf. (© Eric Roxfelt/AP)


Platform 1: Quantum Revolution & Advanced AI

Quantum and physics 

> Microsoft’s new quantum chip could help control thousands of qubits // 28.01.2021, Digital Trends

> IBM promises 100x faster quantum computing in 2021 // 04.01.2021, ExtremeTech

Quantum tunneling in graphene advances the age of terahertz wireless communications // 03.02.2021,

Chinese researchers to send an 'uncrackable' quantum message to space // 03.02.2021, Live Science

Roche to use quantum computing for drug discovery // 28.01.2021, Fortune
Related content on Roche’s website.

EU–US collaboration on quantum technologies: emerging opportunities for research and standards-setting // January 2021, Chatham House


Artificial intelligence and robots

> As the FDA clears a flood of AI tools, missing data raise troubling questions on safety and fairness // 03.02.2021, STAT

This alliance aims to accelerate the adoption of inclusive, trusted and transparent AI worldwide // 28.01.2021, WEF

Product design to racial justice: global plan to promote ethical AI // 28.01.2021, Thomson Reuters Foundation News

Artificial skin brings robots closer to 'touching' human lives // 03.02.2021, TechXplore

MIT researchers develop a new “liquid” neural network that’s better at adapting to new info // 28.01.2021, TechXplore/MIT

Human brain cells on microchips aim to 'push boundaries of AI' // 03.02.2021, The Independent

Platform 2: Human Augmentation


Gene-based therapies for neurodegenerative diseases // February 2021, Nature Neuroscience

Is your DNA data safe in Blackstone's hands? // 28.01.2021, NEO.LIFE

> How CRISPR might help diagnose and halt dangerous outbreaks faster // 04.02.2021, AXIOS

Major nutrition study aims to learn which diet best suits your genes and gut // 01.02.2021, Science


The promise of organoids and embryoids // 02.02.2021, Nature Materials

How epidemiology has shaped the COVID pandemic // 27.01.2021, Nature News

Hacking the skin microbiome to fool mosquitos and prevent malaria // 28.01.2021, NEO.LIFE


> Tiny high-tech probes reveal how information flows across the brain // 21.01.2021, Allen Institute press release

Elon Musk's company implanted chip into monkey's brain - now he 'plays video games using his mind' // 01.02.2021, Business Insider

How gut microbes could drive brain disorders // 03.02.2021, Nature

New realm of personalized medicine with personalized deep brain stimulation // 01.02.2021, MedicalXPress

Video game graphics cards can simulate monkey brains on the cheap // 01.02.2021, New Scientist

Inside Your Head // February 2021, Science News 
Ethicists, scientists and our readers grapple with the implications of new technologies that let outsiders inside the mind.

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration & Geoengineering


> Plausible energy demand patterns in a growing global economy with climate policy // 25.01.2021, Nature Climate Change

Climate and environment

The nitrogen challenge // January 2021, One Earth
Carbon, predominately in the form of carbon dioxide, has become the elemental posterchild of human activity during the Anthropocene. However, our focus on carbon has resulted in elemental blind spots elsewhere. Another, potentially more problematic challenge remains unaddressed: the nitrogen challenge, the untold story of the Anthropocene.

By the late 21st century, the number of people suffering extreme droughts will double // 02.02.2021, NSF press release

Will understanding the ocean lead to “the ocean we want”? (OPINION) // 02.02.2021, PNAS

China’s largest carbon capture project is a global minnow // 02.02.2021, Bloomberg

> So, Jeff Bezos, you really want to fix the planet? // 04.02.2021, WIRED


NASA offers $500,000 for ideas on growing food in space // 03.02.2021, SlashGear

Thousands more satellites will soon orbit Earth - We need better rules to prevent space crashes // 29.01.2021, SingularityHub

Military eyes AI, cloud computing in space in a decade // 27.01.2021, Defense One

Platform 4: Science & Diplomacy

Investors are finally waking up to the SDGs, but risk remains the elephant in the room // 01.02.2021, Geneva Solutions

> Biden has assembled a stellar science team — now they must pull together (EDITORIAL) // 03.02.2021, Nature

Biden and Harris look to restore science to US governance // 01.02.2021, Chemical & Engineering News

How strong is the US's renewed global commitment? // 26.01.2021,
Is the United States’ recommitment to the World Health Organisation a good sign for international Geneva? What about the future of the WHO itself?

Judge throws out Trump rule limiting what science EPA can use // 01.02.2021, The Washington Post

> Activists are increasingly taking the climate fight to the courts // 05.02.2021, GenevaSolutions

Containing China is not a feasible option (OPINION) // 02.02.2021, Financial Times
Unlike with the Soviet Union, the US and its allies have to co-operate and compete with its rising power.

Democracy Index 2020: in sickness and in health? // February 2021, The Economist: Intelligence Unit
Democracy was dealt a major blow in 2020. Almost 70% of countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index recorded a decline in their overall score, as country after country locked down to protect lives from a novel coronavirus. The global average score fell to its lowest level since the index began in 2006.


There are spying eyes everywhere—and now they share a brain // 04.02.2021, WIRED 

>  Why the world lost to the pandemic // 28.01.2021, Foreign Affairs
Politics and security fears crippled the collective response.

Cabling Africa: the great data race to serve the ‘last billion’ // 31.01.2021, Financial Times

The golden age of social science // 02.02.2021, PNAS

All in one // 29.01.2021, AEON
Human rights, health, the rule of law – why are these concepts inflated to the status of totalising, secular religions?

(© ONU/Elma Okic)


> Until we are all safe, no one is safe. Covid is a global problem // 31.01.2021, The Guardian
Jeremy Farrar, head of the Wellcome Trust, and GESDA Board member, warns that vaccines and research must be shared equitably among all nations. (Photo: DR)

Vaccine nationalism will leave everyone more at risk of coronavirus // 03.02.2021, New Scientist
The fastest way to end the covid-19 crisis is for countries to put the interests of the world ahead of their own, says Seth Berkley, director of the GAVI Alliance.
(Photo: DR)

> «La Suisse et sa neutralité font face à des défis majeurs» // 21.01.2021,
Une Union européenne neutre est-elle concevable? C’est la question que pose l’ancienne conseillère fédérale et ministre des Affaires étrangères, et Membre du Conseil de Fondation de GEDSA, Micheline Calmy-Rey, dans son nouveau livre. (Photo: DR)

2021: the emergence of digital foreign policy (BLOG POST) // 26.01.2021, DiploFoundation
Countries worldwide are looking for ways to deal with the digitalisation of foreign policy.  Dr Jovan Kurbalija (Director, DiploFoundation; Head, Geneva Internet Platform) believes that Switzerland’s Digital Foreign Policy Strategy for 2021–2024 can serve as a very useful guideline. (Photo: DR)

> Fair Finance: how can the global inequality gap be narrowed? // 30.01.2021, UN News
Reducing inequality is one of the UN’s flagship goals, but the gulf between rich and poor worldwide, remains persistently high. Hiro Mizuno, the newly-appointed UN Special Envoy on Innovative Finance and Sustainable Investments, explains how the industry can help to create a fairer, more equitable world. (Photo: DR)


> Scientists as engaged citizens // 03.02.2021, MIT News
In a new MIT class, students explore how STEM researchers bring their knowledge to major societal issues.

> Scientists call for fully open sharing of coronavirus genome data // 03.02.2021, Nature

Scientists for the people // 01.02.2021, AEON
Why the finest minds in 1930s Europe believed that scientists must engage with citizens or risk losing their moral compass.

The science of reasoning with unreasonable people // 31.01.2021, The New York Times
Don’t try to change someone else’s mind. Instead, help them find their own motivation to change.

SciComm research field analysis: findings & recommendations // February 2021, Inscico
This first in-depth empirical analysis of the research field in science communication was conducted for the German Federal Ministry of Research. This study of Science Communication Research (SCR) triangulates a bibliometric and content analysis of approx. 3,000 journal papers with a multi-stage panel study and a review of grey literature spanning four decades. Quantitative findings from the journal analysis (e.g. about disciplinary contexts or topics, research methods, data analysis techniques used) were considered by a panel of 18 science communication researchers in a multi-stage series of qualitative interviews. These experts represent the international and disciplinary diversity of the research field, including past and present editors of the most relevant journals of science communication, and the majority of the most often cited science communication scholars.


> Swiss foreign policy under the COVID-19 pandemic // 03.02.2021,
At its meeting on 3 February 2021, the Federal Council approved the 2020 Foreign Policy Report. The report provides an overview of the priorities of Swiss foreign policy in the past year, most of which was marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Other priorities were European policy and the implementation of the Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–23.

Concernant la Genève international, il est écrit:

“La Suisse s’efforce de soutenir les acteurs déjà présents et d’attirer à Genève des initiatives et des événements nouveaux. De manière générale, les efforts visant à renforcer les forums existants et la mise en réseau des organisations internationales, des ONG et des think tanks basés à Genève sont poursuivis afin de mieux exploiter leur potentiel. Les initiatives soutenues par la Suisse, notamment la Geneva Internet Platform (GIP), le Geneva Science-Policy Interface (GSPI), le Dialogue de Genève sur le comportement responsable dans le cyberespace et la Fondation Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA), seront davantage exploitées et développées. Concernant la Fondation GESDA, ses opérations ont été lancées début 2020 sur la base de sa feuille de route 2020-2022, qui comprend quatre thèmes de travail prioritaires, à savoir (i) la révolution quantique et l’intelligence artificielle avancée ; (ii) l’augmentation des capacités de l’être humain ; (iii) la régénération d’écosystèmes et la géo-ingénierie ; (iv) la science et la diplomatie.”


Humanity, now more than ever, is facing global challenges (especially with regards to the Covid-19 crisis), putting people and the planet under stress and in great uncertainty. Simultaneously, the world is experiencing breakthroughs in science and technology at an unprecedented pace, which are sometimes hard to grasp. Anticipation, therefore, is key to build the future with the aim of early and fully exploiting this scientific potential for the well-being and inclusive development of all. The Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator was founded in Geneva in 2019 to tackle this issue.

GESDA's ambition is to first anticipate and identify these cutting-edge advances in science and technology throughout various domains (Quantum revolution & advanced AI, Human augmentation, Ecoregeneration and Geoengineering, Science and Diplomacy). Based on this scientific outlook, it will, with its Diplomacy community, translate potential leaps in science and tech into tools that can bring effective and socially-inclusive solutions to emerging challenges. Most importantly, this process will be achieved not only by scientists or diplomats, but will include actors of various professional origins and mindsets (from philanthropy, industry, citizens, to youth).

Forward Forward
Have a very nice and fruitful week! :-)
Copyright ©  2020, All rights reserved for the selection. All rights reserved by the respective media for articles reproduction.
Selection of an article in this press review doesn't mean endorsement by GESDA.

Mailing address:
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