26 June 2018 BIST Annual Conference

Nobel Laureate Barry C. Barish offered the keynote address

IGNITE Grant recipients including Pau Gorostiza (IBEC) and Niek van Hulst (ICFO) presented their projects

Dialogues on the boundaries of knowledge with BIST researchers and invited guests

Giving BIST scientists the tools to change the world In 2017, BIST held its first international scientific meeting- a Founding Conference- aimed at promoting the debate on multidisciplinary scientific research and its impact on advancing the frontiers of knowledge. On Wednesday, June 27th, 2018, BIST held what is now its Annual Conference, at Cosmo Caixa, allowing the BIST research community to showcase and discuss the science carried out at the BIST centers with an emphasis on transversal and multidisciplinary topics. The event offered a space for researchers to meet, get to know each other’s science, and spark new collaborations.

Gabby Silberman, director general of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology, took advantage of his speech welcoming the more than 300 researchers participating in the conference to call for a funding model that ensures periodic renovation of scientific facilities “that are essential to doing competitive science“ and to highlight the need for training that prepares postdoc researchers to play a more active role beyond the lab.

We have the obligation to give our scientists the tools they need to do the best science, but also to have an effective impact on society. This means giving them access to the latest-generation technology, and also giving them multidisciplinary training that prepares them to lead research and promote industrial innovation or train future generations of scientists,“ said Silberman, who explained that one of the most noteworthy projects underway at BIST now is working to boost its capacities in high-resolution microscopy. In his speech, BIST’s director explained the institute’s main activities over the past year, including the Ignite Programme, which has funded 13 disruptive multidisciplinary research projects in the early stages, and the Master of Multidisciplinary Research in Experimental Sciences, in collaboration with Pompeu Fabra University, with the first class having just graduated and double the number of spots for the 2018-2019 course.

For his part, Àngel Font, corporate director of Research and Strategy at the “la Caixa” Banking Foundation and currently vice-president of the BIST Board of Trustees, said: “The BIST has positioned itself in a short time as an international reference in research of excellence and in translation of its results to society. It has done so by joining forces, promoting multidisciplinarity and increasing the critical mass to clearly improve the capacity for innovation in our country. For the Banking Foundation “la Caixa“ the alliance with the BIST is strategic and fundamental“.

US scientist Barry C. Barish, 2017 Nobel laureate in Physics with Rainer Weiss and Kip S. Thorne for their contribution to LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) and the observation of gravitational waves, gave the keynote speech at the conference, entitled Gravitational Waves: From Einstein to a New Science.

The program for the rest of the event included Dialogues on the Boundaries of Knowledge in a variety of interdisciplinary areas between BIST researchers and invited guests, followed by presentations from Ignite grant awardees. Marileen Dogterom, chair of the Department of Nanoscience (Kavli Institute) at Delft University of Technology, professor of Molecular Physics at Leiden University and a global leader in the field of molecular biology, gave the closing speech of the conference, entitled Building a Synthetic Cell. Dogertom received the 2017 Suffrage Science Award that the Medical Research Council in the United Kingdom awards to female researchers who stand out for their contribution to science.