27 September 2013

TWAS to Meet in Dynamic Buenos Aires

Top scientists and policymakers from the developing world – including science ministers from at least two nations – will convene in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Monday 30 September for a meeting that will explore new research and compelling challenges in science and engineering.

In all, more than 300 researchers, top science policy officials and educators are expected to attend the yearly General Meeting of The World Academy of Sciences for the advancement of science in developing countries (TWAS). They will engage in discussions and hear presentations on a range of critically important issues, including innovation in Latin America, cancer research in Africa, membrane-based technology for environmental protection, biotechnology for agriculture, and the social science of poverty. 

On Tuesday 1 October, government ministers and their representatives from some of the developing world’s science leaders will meet to discuss the development challenges their nations have faced, policies that have helped to advance science in those nations and plans for future progress. The session is expected to include speeches by Lino Barañao, Argentina’s minister of Science, Technology and productive innovation; Derek Hanekom, minister of South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology; Thirumalachari Ramasami, secretary of India’s Department of Science and Technology; and TWAS President Bai Chunli, who also serves as president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The session also will include top officials of Brazil, Italy, Mexico and UNESCO.

“It’s very exciting that TWAS is celebrating its 30th anniversary in Buenos Aires," said TWAS President Bai Chunli. "Latin American scientists have been centrally important to TWAS since the Academy’s founding. And today, Argentina is a hub of global science, with innovation in fields ranging from agriculture to space technology. Such innovation will be essential to address global challenges that are growing in scale and complexity. I’m confident that at our meeting, we will hear some of the world’s top scientists, from many countries, address these issues in ways that can be helpful for policymakers and the public." 

"Promotion of productive innovation requires a more active government role, since social players usually lack formal structures,” said Barañao. “Our experience indicates that the key for a prosperous science and technology policy is continuity in the goals and the focused energy of a professional staff. In this context, the TWAS meeting can play a significant role because it offers insights on both research and science policy that are useful for leaders in government, business and education." 

Argentina in recent decades has taken great strides to build its science, engineering and technology sectors, and can claim influential accomplishments in fields ranging from biomedicine to astroparticles. The 2013 TWAS General Meeting is supported and co-organized by the Argentinian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation – created in 2007 by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner – and the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET), an independent body under the ministry and the leading scientific institution in the country. 

The meeting will be held at the Sheraton Buenos Aires Hotel & Convention Center for business meetings on Monday, and for four days of science meetings from 1-4 October. Attendance is by invitation only. The official language of the meeting is English. 

In later days, the meeting will offer a diverse programme on science and policy – with an added theme of celebration for TWAS’s 30th anniversary. There will be a ceremony to mark the contributions of TWAS Founding Fellows, who came together to establish the Academy in 1983.  

This year’s meeting will feature discussions by leading scientists from across the globe and a screening of a new documentary film about the impact of TWAS's work in Kenya. In addition, there will be lectures on a range of important issues, including preventing HIV infection in women; biomedical advances against infectious diseases; and crystallography as a driver of industrial development and economic growth. 

The meeting also will feature two symposia. The first, in the evening of 1 October, is on the development of Argentine science and technology. The second, in the morning of 2 October, is on quantum information and quantum computing.

TWAS will announce at the meeting its newest class of elected Academy members, representing the most accomplished scientists and engineers in the developing world. In addition, TWAS will announce  winners of its major prizes, including the first-ever TWAS-Lenovo Science Prize, which includes a USD100,000 award. The Lenovo Prize, to be given for achievements in physics and astronomy this year,  is one of the most prestigious science prizes in the developing world and will be announced at about noon during the opening ceremony on 1 October, followed by a lecture from the prize winner at 14:30. The annual TWAS Prizes for 2012 will also be awarded at the ceremony. Special awards for services to TWAS will be given to Immacolata Pannone, a scientific expert with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Fu Shuqin, the director of TWAS Regional Office for East & Southeast Asia and a longtime TWAS leader in China. 

Three TWAS Medal winners will speak on 3 October. Francisco José Barrantes, a TWAS vice president and a neuroscientist at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, will discuss the brain on the nanoscale level. Chemist Michael Lawrence Klein of Temple University, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA), will focus on using computer simulations to understand molecular cell membrane channels for ions that are relevant to pharmacology. And cancer researcher Tabello Nyokong of Rhodes University, South Africa, will discuss the use of combined therapies to fight cancer in Africa.

Wednesday 2 October will feature lectures by Chinese climatologist Xiaojing Zheng on the modeling of dune field evolution, which can serve as a reflection of global climate change, and by TWAS fellow and International Union of Crystallography President Gautam Radhakrishna Desiraju on the International Year of Crystallography. 

On Thursday 3 October, the meeting will screen “Seeds of Science,” a new documentary by Italian filmmaker Nicole Leghissa that explores how TWAS prize-winners and fellowships are transforming agriculture and farm productivity in Kenya. Leghissa will attend the screening to take questions from the audience. 

TWAS will also encourage the robust use of social media at the meeting. It is introducing the Twitter hashtag #TWASmtg, and everyone at the meeting or following it online is invited take part in the conversation. Follow TWAS on Twitter and on Facebook

To learn more, download the meeting programme below. For questions and further information, email

PDF icon 24gm-2013-tentative-programme.pdf47.69 KB
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