The Science4Peace Summit, a manifestation of the Swedish American Life Science Summit (SALSS) together with The Galien Foundation, took place in Stockholm on the 12th of December during the Nobel festivities.
Barbro Ehnbom, the founder of SALSS, and her team had invited dignitaries in science, life science and healthcare to participate in a manifestation for peace and solidarity.
The day of the conference began with inspiring speeches from Anna König Jerlmyr, the former Mayor of Stockholm and Jonas Hafström, the former Swedish Ambassador to the United States. Dr. William Haseltine, Chair and President of Access Health International, joined the conference digitally from the United States. He gave a very inspiring speech about the developments of the pharma industry during the past 20 years, and he also shared his thoughts about the future of the pharma industry.
The future of precision medicine
A Precision Medicine panel discussion began with a presentation from Dr. Thomas Sakmar, Professor from the Rockefeller University, where he highlighted that the future of precision medicine and drug discovery within this field is bright. Dr. Sakmar stated that there are over a thousand human genes associated with disease, and yet only a hundred of these genes have been discovered as drug targets, describes Irina Polishchuk to NLS.
Later, Dr. Mathias Uhlén, Professor in Human Microbiology at KTH, presented his perspectives on precision medicine and emphasized that early blood testing for specific biomarkers can facilitate early cancer detection and dramatically increase the rate of patient survival. After their presentations, Dr. Sakmar and Dr. Uhlén had a fruitful discussion by answering questions from the audience.
A business perspective
In between the main presentations, Akthelia, BioArctic, CELLINK, Devyser, EpiEndo and LIDDS Pharma presented their exciting breakthroughs to the SALSS guests, and formed new business relationships with investors and other partners. Further in the program, Dr. Tim Opler, Partner and Co-Founder of Torreya Partners, also gave the audience a business perspective on the life science industry, reports Irina Polishchuk.
“We must address the diseases by integrating innovative technologies and AI in order to have a better understanding of the patient’s subclinical status, as well as have better endpoints and response algorithms.”
He brought to everyone’s attention that today, the top tech companies are worth much more than top healthcare companies. There is a need to evolve the traditional pharma business model. “We must address the diseases by integrating innovative technologies and AI in order to have a better understanding of the patient’s subclinical status, as well as have better endpoints and response algorithms,” said Dr. Opler.
In addition, according to Dr. Opler, the most attractive areas within healthcare to build a trillion-dollar value company are Bioelectronics, Pan-Health Screening, Consumer-Centric Care, and Crop Sciences.
The need for medicines that prevent disease
A Hot Chairs: Tomorrow’s Healthcare panel discussion included Ms. Sana Alajmovic, Founder and CEO of Sigrid Therapeutics, Mr. Andre Watson, Founder and CEO of Ligandal, and Ms. Cecilia Edebo, CEO of CELLINK. The three executives discussed how their companies are contributing toward the future of healthcare.
An interesting highlight of the panel was the need for medicines that prevent disease, however there is not much investment in this area, describes Irina Polishchuk. Most current medicines aim to treat and not prevent, which contributes to late detection and lower survival rates.
Perspective, personal experiences and a touching remembrance
During the Science4Peace Panel, Mr. Ola Rosling, CEO of Gapminder Foundation, gave the audience an interactive presentation of the common misconceptions people have about the world.
“We tend to believe that everything is worse than it actually is, and there needs to be more education surrounding these topics. No matter how underdeveloped healthcare in third world countries is compared to the West, it has drastically improved,” he stated.
Dr. Florence Haseltine, Professor from the University of Texas at Arlington, and Dr. Yuval Binur, Managing Partner of Arsuf Global Partners, joined Mr. Ola Rosling in discussing the current state of affairs in the world and their personal experiences.
Bruno Cohen, Chairman of the Galien Foundation, ended the conference with a touching remembrance of Eile Wiesel and his life’s remarkable endeavors.
“I had the opportunity to meet with the widow of Elie Wiesel when I was in NYC and she was an inspiration! Long term collaboration has to be a resource for science, particularly in times of war. Our global science community can unite in a show of support and civic responsibility,” says Barbro Ehnbom.
The Nobel Peace Laureate Oleksandra Romantsova
The evening Gala Dinner took place in the Baroque Hall of the Swedish History Museum. The evening entertainment program included a Saint Lucia Choir, a piano performance by Magnus Mårtensson, and a sensational song by Ukrainian artist Maria Sur.
In addition, SALSS Science4Peace with utmost honor welcomed Oleksandra Romantsova, Executive Director of Centre for Civil Liberties (CCL) and this year’s Nobel Peace Laureate to the Gala Dinner. Ms. Romantsova handed over the Peace Prize, a ‘Non-Violence’ statue of a knotted gun designed by a Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd, to a representative from Skill Shift Initiative (Beredskapslyftet). Skill Shift Initiative is a Swedish organization that initiated multiple projects helping Ukrainian refugees in Sweden. They were chosen by the SALSS committee as the receiver of the Peace Prize for this impressive work.
“Skill Shift Initiative is a Swedish organization that initiated multiple projects helping Ukrainian refugees in Sweden. They were chosen by the SALSS committee as the receiver of the Peace Prize for this impressive work.”
Furthermore, Ms. Romantsova answered some questions on stage about her work on documenting war crimes and fighting to protect fundamental rights of citizens, thus demonstrating the importance of civil society for peace and democracy. The SALSS Gala Dinner was an evening full of warmth, support and connection.
The former big pharma executive and Wall Street analyst, Barbro Ehnbom, founded the Swedish-American Life Science Summit (SALSS) 20 years ago and the conference has since then become a beloved annual tradition. Last year’s edition was supposed to be the last but with the unprecedented war in Ukraine Barbro Ehnbom felt the urge to do something.
“The pandemic made us aware of how important health and medicine is for individuals and society, and that it also impacts geopolitics and industry. Now is the time to come together to show the level of knowledge we have reached and how to bring it into the future of healthcare,” says Ehnbom.
The 2022 SALSS SCIENCE4PEACE is a special edition of the classic SALSS format to explore the connection between Science and Peace with the long-term mission of welcoming our fellow Ukrainian colleagues into the European and American Life Science Community.
Text by Irina Polishchuk, Project Manager, SALSS Science4Peace