Life sciences half a century on from the 'double helix'

April 8, 2003

Brussels, 07 Apr 2003

On the 50th anniversary of the historic discovery of the structure of DNA, the World Life Sciences (Biovision) Forum will look ahead to the wonders and perils 21st century biology holds in store.

Biovision 2003, which will be held in Lyon between 8 and 11 April, brings together various stakeholders in the life sciences. It will hold a special Nobel Day to commemorate half a century of modern biology heralded by the discovery of the double helix.

Nobel laureate James Watson, who along with Francis Hick co-wrote a milestone 1953 paper in Nature outlining their discovery of the structure of DNA, will be among 12 Nobel Prize winners at the event on 8 April. The laureates will discuss the milestones of 20th century biology, including the mapping of the human genome, and look 'beyond DNA' to the biological wonders of the 21st century.

French President Jacques Chirac will then officially launch the World Life Sciences Forum with a keynote speech. He will be among other top politicians invited to attend the forum including former South African President Nelson Mandela, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Forging closer ties between science and society

Representatives from the scientific community, civil society and industry from around the world will gather at Biovision's four main conferences to explore the future of life sciences and address the pressing issues facing modern biology and its position in society. Debate will focus on improving the quality of life, access to safe and healthy food, and environmental concerns.

This year's gathering aims to attract more participants from developing countries and civil society than at the previous forum in 2001. The forum's focus on facilitating a broad dialogue between the various stakeholders complements the science and society element of the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).

Biovision 2003 will also hold a special BiotEC event under the auspices of the European Commission's Research and Industry directorates-general. It will explore the innovative financial instruments available to research and biotech entrepreneurs under FP6.

"In the field of biotechnology, social and economic links are gradually being built, fuelled by a growing number of concrete achievements," said Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin. "Those concerned – politicians, researchers, financiers, legislators, consumers and citizens' groups – are learning how to interact constructively on a technically complex subject."

Source:: Biovision and EU sources


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