Previous Fora / 2011


past president, German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina

 Prof. Volker ter Meulen qualified as MD in 1960. He received a training in virology in the USA. He specialised in paediatrics and in clinical virology. In 1975 he became Chairman of the Institute of Virology, Univ. Würzburg, and was Dean of the Faculty of Medicine from 1998-2002. He has worked on pathogenic aspects of viral infections, in particular infections of the central nervous system. Nationally and internationally, ter Meulen has served over the years in advisory committees of government bodies and scientific societies/unions. From 2003-2010, ter Meulen was President of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Under his leadership, the Leopoldina has strengthened its international commitments in different inter-academic councils and was appointed National Academy of Sciences in 2008. From 2007-2010, he was President of the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC), an association of the National Academies of the European Union.



17:00-19:00 17 NOVEMBER
THEMATIC SESSION I. Leopoldina: „Emerging and re-emerging infections”

The ever-changing world of microbes

While there have been major advances during the last century in the treatment of infectious disease, assumptions that most pathogens had been conquered were too complacent. Human and animal populations are increasingly threatened by (re-)emerging infections, in particular by drug-resistant microbes (acquiring and exchanging key defensive functions), newly-emerging pathogens, often zoonoses that may have recently crossed the species barrier (for example SARS), new variants of the influenza virus (in part reflecting processes of reassortment and antigenic drift), as well as the resurgence in new forms of long-established threats such as TB. The abilities of microbes to evolve and adapt present many challenges in human and animal medicine. The public health burden is exacerbated by the increasing mobility of pathogens, their vectors and animal hosts, in consequence of environmental change.
The ever-changing world of microbes has implications for public policy across a broad front: (i) public health capacity, particularly the development of disease surveillance systems capitalising on new technologies from the molecular biosciences with the commitment to share data to provide early intelligence about new threats; (ii) fundamental research, for example to understand the determinants and consequences of microbial changes in pathogenicity, virulence and transmission across the species barrier; (iii) innovation, to develop and deploy novel diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, to prepare for and respond to current and future priorities; (iv) “one health”, to integrate human and animal health strategies and (v) public engagement, to ensure accurate and timely communication about the implications for health.
The ever-changing world of microbes inevitably leads to new uncertainties about the changing burden of disease. Tackling these challenges – to prepare for the unexpected - requires new collective efforts to capitalise on the changing landscape of science: to build new critical mass internationally, new public-private partnerships, new interdisciplinary and intersectoral linkages. There must also be new urgency to generate and use knowledge for the multiple purposes:  to improve health service responsiveness and proactivity, to create the resource to support innovation and education and to deliver the evidence base to inform policy-making. Academies and their networks are well-placed to mobilise the necessary scientific skills and support the linkages to use that expertise.


09:00-11:00 18 NOVEMBER