Recent IEEE Life Sciences Grand Challenges Conference (LSGCC 2013) in Singapore Featured Distinguished Speakers Tackling Key Issues

NOTE: Stay tuned to the Life Sciences Portal for upcoming articles and interviews from the Conference!

Dr. Nitish Thakor, Conference Chair, and Dr. Moshe Kam, past IEEE President and IEEE Life Sciences Champion, opened LSGCC 2013, which was held in the vibrant University Town (UTown) on the campus of National University of Singapore (NUS). (See the NUS writeup on the event). The morning of the first day of LSGCC was packed with a line-up of distinguished speakers. NUS President Tan Chorh Chuan provided welcoming remarks to the attendees, and expressed excitement for LSGCC in addressing interfaces, translation, and real world issues, and how several NUS initiatives are involved by promoting cross-disciplinary interactions and programs. Ms. Yong Ying-I, Permanent Secretary, National R&D, Singapore, articulated the importance of the Life Sciences sector to biomedical science and national healthcare especially in an aging population, and the need for talented and dedicated people to work together to address the ongoing series of challenges. Professor Sir George Radda, Chairman of A*STAR Biomedical Research Council, completed the inauguration portion of LSGCC with a presentation on “Biomedical Knowledge in the Service of Man: Social Responsibility of the Scientist”. Professor Sir George Radda outlined six Engineering Challenges toward the “Convergent Science” integrative molecular physiology Grand Challenge.

Dr. Barry Halliwell, Deputy President for Research, NUS, and Dr. Alan Finkel, Chancellor, Monash University followed with their Plenary talks and provided interesting perspectives on Biomedical Research. Having worked in the UK, USA, and Singapore, Dr. Halliwell provided viewpoints on the role of research intensive universities, and discussed the research strategy at NUS with examples of his own research. Dr. Finkel expressed his enthusiasm in recognizing the parallels between science and nature, and invention and discovery. Dr. Finkel challenged the audience on whether we can combine our own ingenuity with lessons from nature to solve the big challenges.

Day 2’s Plenary was given by Dr. Benjamin W. Wah, Provost and Professor, Chinese University of Hong Kong as he shared his perspectives on Big Data. As the IEEE Computer Society Past President, and Provost at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Dr. Wah gave a guided tour of this rapidly expanding field and its significance for Life Sciences and Healthcare.

The conference was a very high caliber meeting which engaged some of the most exciting and influential researchers in specific sub-disciplines of the Life Sciences. Among them were Sir George Radda (known for his work on molecular imaging of heart metabolism and function); Barry Halliwell (molecular mechanisms of free radical-induced damage); Alan Finkel (electronic and robotic instruments and software for use in cellular neuroscience, genomics and drug discovery); Paolo Dario (biomedical robotics), Shuming Nie (bioconjugated nanoparticles for cancer molecular imaging, molecular profiling, and targeted therapy), Jack Gallant (neural basis of vision and visual perception), David Townsend (diagnostic medical imaging) and Benjamin W. Wah (“Big Data”).

The technical program included eight sessions on the frontiers of a wide range of Life Sciences areas, including:

  • Medical Robotics
  • Bio-Nanotechnology
  • Human Brain (“Neuro Night”)
  • Computational Medicine
  • Imaging
  • Bioengineering
  • Global Health
  • Innovations & Entrepreneurship

The Neuro Night session (From Reverse Engineering Brain to Brain Machine Interface) was a special event which extended from 6:30 to 9:30PM on the first day of the conference – it featured, among other speakers, Dr. Bruce Wheeler from the University of Florida and current EMBS President who spoke on “Reverse and Forward Engineering of the Brain”) and Dr. José del R. Millán from Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) who discussed “The Rise of Neuroprosthetics”.

In addition to the technical sessions, participants were invited to submit poster presentations for a Poster Session. From among the entrants, four winning teams’ presentations were selected. They were:

  • Toan Dothanh, Yiren Zhou, Hossein Nejati, Ngai-Man Cheung, Dawn Koh, Ricardo Sosa, Suat Hoon Tan, Martin Chio, Michelle Liang, Aaron Tan and Susan Swetter (from Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore)
  • Lun-De Liao, Yu-Hang Liu, Aishwarya Bandla and Nitish Thakor (from Singapore Institute for Neurotechnology, Singapore.)
  • Yu Sun, Shengdi Chen, Fei Miao, Anastasios Bezerianos, Nitish Thakor and Junfeng Sun (from Singapore Institute for Neurotechnology, Singapore.)
  • Haoyong Yu, Gong Chen and Zhao Guo (from Department of Biomedical Engineering, National University of Singapore)

Congratulations to Conference Chair, Dr. Nitish Thakor, Program Chair, Dr. Yuan-Ting Zhang, IEEE Staff, the IEEE Singapore Office and the many volunteers for making LSGCC 2013 a successful conference.