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2019 IBRO World Congress, so called “Brain Science Olympics” Held (Sep 23)

- Global scholars including Nobel laureates to discuss future of brain science

- Various programs held such as international brain science olympiad, panel discussions and public lectures

2019 IBRO World Congress, so called “brain science olympics” held every four years with the participation of neuroscientists around the world was held at EXCO Convention Center, Daegu on September 21.

IBRO World Congress is the largest symposium in the field of neuroscience hosted by International Brain Research Organization (IBRO). Since its first hosting in 1982 in Lausanne, Switzerland, IBRO is held for the tenth time this year and Korea is the second country to host IBRO following Japan in 1995.

The Ministry of Science and ICT announced that in 2019 IBRO World Congress, over 4,000 participants from total 92 countries came together to share the latest trends in brain science and discuss ways to promote global cooperation through various programs of the five-day event held from 21st to 25th of September.

In the event, lectures from eleven world-class scholars were delivered and various programs such as symposia (10 topics, total 40 sessions), International Brain Bee (IBB) and young brain science olympiad were held.

On September 23(Mon), which is the third day of hosting the event, a seminar was held with the attendance of over 200 female neuroscientists from home and abroad and the event is cohosted by Women in World Neuroscience (WWN), Korea Brain Research Institute and Korea Federation of Women’s Science and Technology Associations.

From its establishment in 2008 under International Brain Research Organization, Women in World Neuroscience (WWN) has held separate sessions from the eighth IBRO World Congress (held in Italy in 2011). In this year’s session, presentations and panel discussions were held under the theme of “challenges faced by Asian female neuroscientists in their career development”.

After the presentations, mentoring session was held where five invited speakers* advise the next-generation of female neuroscientists on career development and share their experiences and this has provided an opportunity for networking.

* Xiaohong Xu from China, Noriko Osumi from Japan, Professor Seo Hae Young of Ajou University, Orly Weinreb from Israel, Kim So-yeong (President of KAIST Graduate School of Science and Technology Policy)

Vice Minister Mun Miock of Science and ICT said, “when we talk about “female” issues in the field of science and technology, it is mostly taken as an issue coming from discrimination against minorities. However, this issue should be approached from the perspective of the role played by female scientists and engineers in promoting excellence of science.“

In addition, in introducing achievements from policies and future directions to nurture female scientists and engineers of Korea, Vice Minister Mun added, “there has been accomplishments in the number of female employees, institution and system improvement. These days, there are ongoing discussions that science should give the same benefits to both males and females and gender characteristics should be reflected to research methodology and organization so that they can have same effects.”

[ Overview of Korea’s support in brain science research ]

Since the legislation of “brain research promotion act” in 1998, the Ministry of Science and ICT has accelerated support for brain research and established “the basic plan to promote brain research” every ten years with the collaboration of relevant ministries and implemented the plan.

Through the first and second basic plan, the Korean government has injected a total of KRW 1.4276 trillion for twenty years from 2017 and the yearly budget increased by 7.5 times from KRW 25.9 billion in 2001 to KRW 194.6 billion in 2018.

In “the third brain research promotion act” announced in last May, the vision for entering into the era of improving understanding for brain and increasing brain use was proposed which includes projects and strategies to be implemented by 2027.

The vision aims to increase understanding for the principles for brain operation in an attempt to provide fundamental solutions to brain disease which causes tremendous social cost such as dementia and to usher in the era where such brain science knowledge can be used in not only curing diseases but also to have comprehensive industrial uses including AI technologies.

Recognizing the importance of global cooperation in order to have a complete understanding of brain which is an unknown area comparable to the universe, the Ministry of Science and ICT hopes the hosting of 2019 IBRO World Congress can serve as the opportunity for the future brain science vision of the Korean government to be communicated to the international community and become the momentum in raising the status of Korea in future collaboration with the global community.

[ Major programs of IBRO 2019 ]

(opening ceremony and lectures) After the opening ceremony on the 21st, world-class lectures were delivered which contribute to analyzing brain science of today and predicting the future.

Esteemed scholars from around the world including Emeritus Professor Erwin Neher of Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry Research, Germany, who won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1991 presented on their research outcomes on main topics of brain science research such as cognition and sociality, brain and neural biology and brain neuroethics.

In particular, Dr. Shin Hee-Sup (Center for Cognition and Sociality, Institute for Basic Science) delivered a lecture on the intriguing topic of “genetic and circuit analysis of empathy behaviors in the mouse”, which is the first time for a Korean to be an invited speaker in IBRO World Congress.

(symposia) In the scientific symposia held during the five days of the event, consisting of total 40 sessions, eight sessions per day, experts discussed passionately on a variety of topics that the general public is interested in such as dementia, controlling circuits that generate emotional behavior, research on autism disorders and treatments and memory and learning.

(International Brain Bee (IBB)) International brain science olympiad which is a venue where young scientists (13~19 years old) from around the world attend every year to compete in good faith is held in Korea this year on the occasion of 2019 IBRO World Congress.

29 representatives of each country who made it to the preliminary competition advanced into the finals on September 20-21 held for two days. In the finals, representatives of 5 countries including China, Poland, Iran, Canada and Australia were awarded at the ceremony.

The award ceremony came after the opening ceremony of 2019 IBRO World Congress and Professor Lee Kong-Joo, Advisor to the President for Science and Technology awarded trophy and medals to young students who are the future of Korea’s brain science and gave words of encouragement.

(International Brain Initiative) In an effort to facilitate exchanges and cooperation with major advanced countries in the field of brain science, the Ministry of Science and ICT formulated International Brain Initiative (IBI)* together with 6 countries including the U.S., Europe, China, Japan, Australia and Canada and the first official meeting was held in Korea last May.

* International Brain Initiative

International Brain Initiative (IBI) meeting was convened from 23 to 24 of September on the sidelines of 2019 IBRO World Congress to share current progress made in brain science projects of each country and to review the implementation of data sharing as well as seeking legal, social, ethical guidelines for sustainable brain research discussed in the last meeting.

(side-event) There were side-events for the general public to enjoy such as poster sessions (4 sessions, total 1,500 posters), business expos, public lectures, cultural tours etc.

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