Exploring the Dynamic Landscape of Science and Biomedical Innovations at Frontiers Health


In this article, Luigi Pavia, leading Ecosystem Engagement & Partnerships at Frontiers Health, with contributions from steering committee member Nana Bit-Avragim, explored the dynamic landscape of science and biomedical innovations covered in the latest editions of Frontiers Health.

In our pursuit of exploring the forefront of health and innovation, at Frontiers Health, we have progressively refined our focus towards addressing the latest challenges, discoveries, and potentialities within life sciences.

Starting from Frontiers Health 2022, and continuing through 2023, we introduced dedicated tracks aimed at offering our delegates additional perspectives on current developments and prospects. From brain research to cardiometabolic diseases, and from aging research to AI/LLM models for early drug discovery and development, we have delved deeply into the realm of biomedical and scientific innovations.

Let’s take a closer look at the recent and engaging topics we’ve covered in our last two editions.

Frontiers Health 2023

Neurodegenerative diseases

Among the opening keynotes, we proudly hosted Eino Solje, Director of Brain Research Unit, neurologist, University of Eastern Finland, who introduced groundbreaking methodologies that surpass current standards:

  1. Introducing non-invasive transcranial magnetic stimulation as a diagnostic, predictive, and monitoring tool for dementia and other cognitive disorders.
  2. Highlighting transcranial alternating current stimulation as a straightforward yet highly effective intervention for neurodegenerative diseases.

There exists a significant correlation among various non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, endocrine disorders, dementia, and numerous cancers, as they frequently co-occur in individuals and share common risk factors. This observation underscores the opportunity to address these risk factors in a unified manner. Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and scientific research now acknowledge the importance of managing these diseases across an individual’s lifespan, rather than merely addressing symptoms as they manifest. This paradigm shift requires personalized and meticulous approaches driven by data, encompassing both biomedical factors and non-health determinants. While precision medicine tailors treatment to the specific needs of individuals, precision health concentrates on proactive measures to mitigate disease risk, both at the population and individual levels.

Cardio-Metabolic Diseases

At Frontiers Health 2023 (F23), in collaboration with éditohealth and the Radical Health Festival Helsinki, we convened a panel moderated by Dr. Charles Alessi, Chief Clinical Officer at éditohealth. The panel showcased how recognizing the interconnected nature of non-communicable diseases, adopting a life course approach to disease management, and integrating precision health with precision medicine can enhance outcomes and personalize care to promote overall well-being. Enriching the discussion was the esteemed presence of Gerhard Hindricks, Head of the Digital Health Committee at the European Society of Cardiology.

Generative AI & Aging Research

To delve deeper into cutting-edge science and biomedical innovations, we crafted a dedicated thematic session featuring diverse formats and esteemed thought leaders. We commenced with a keynote presentation on ‘Multi-modal Generative AI and Robotics for Drug Discovery, Development, and Aging Research’ by Alex Zhavoronkov, Founder & CEO at Insilico Medicine. Zhavoronkov highlighted the remarkable performance of generative AI systems across various tasks and explored their applications in therapeutic target discovery, small molecule generation, clinical trial prediction, and aging research.

DNA & New Medicines

Additionally, we delved into ‘Designing DNA to Discover New Medicines’ with an insightful keynote curated by Sidhyansh Saxena, Head of BD, AI & Europe, Ginkgo Bioworks.

In this keynote presentation, Sidhyansh Saxena introduced the cutting-edge realm of genetic engineering and its revolutionary impact on the discovery and development of novel medicines. With expertise rooted in the intersection of biology and technology, Saxena illuminated the intricate process of leveraging DNA design to unlock groundbreaking therapeutic solutions.

Drawing from the forefront of biotechnology, Saxena navigated the audience through the innovative strategies and methodologies employed at Ginkgo Bioworks, a pioneering biotech company renowned for its pioneering work in synthetic biology (synbio). Synthetic biology is a multidisciplinary field of biotechnology that involves engineering the genetic material of organisms—such as viruses, bacteria, yeast, plants, or animals—to have new characteristics. It has the potential to create useful changes in crops, improved drugs, stronger materials, and more efficient industrial processes. Ginkgo Bioworks represents the first ever marketplace for synbio. By harnessing the power of DNA as a blueprint for drug discovery, Saxena showcased how the landscape of pharmaceutical innovation is evolving.

Through captivating insights and real-world examples, Saxena elucidated the transformative potential of DNA design in accelerating the identification and optimization of therapeutic candidates. From precision targeting of disease pathways to the creation of tailored treatments, this keynote offered a compelling glimpse into the future of medicine driven by genetic engineering, and our attendees embarked on a journey through the intricate code of life itself, where DNA serves not only as a molecule of heredity but also as a powerful tool for deciphering the complexities of human health and unlocking a new era of medical breakthroughs.

SynBio & Innovation in R&D Methodologies

During the same session, we also dealt with Innovation in R&D Methodologies. The landscape of research and development is undergoing a dynamic transformation, characterized by the fusion of scientific principles with digital technologies and the emergence of collaborative ecosystems encompassing diverse professional communities. In this enlightening panel discussion, moderated by Elena Pirofalo, Content Director at Frontiers Health, we delved into the forefront of these paradigm shifts, exploring how various stakeholders are revolutionizing R&D methodologies. The panel offered a rare opportunity to examine innovative strategies shaping the research arena. Key topics included:

  1. The integration of digital transformation within the R&D value chain by pharmaceutical companies.
  2. The role of digital health platforms in democratizing access to cutting-edge health and scientific research.
  3. The collaborative efforts of non-profit organizations in fostering cooperative communities to advance scientific endeavors, particularly in the realm of SynBio.
  4. The pivotal role of associations in bridging the SynBio ecosystem, nurturing bio-entrepreneurship, and facilitating collaborative networks that unite academia, industry, and bio-enthusiasts.

Decentralized Science (DeSci)

Furthermore, we invited our conference delegates to step into the future of life sciences with a deep dived focused on Decentralized Science (DeSci): Web3 Model for Accelerating Transformative Biotechnologies”. DeSci consists of an innovative decentralized model, which is poised to revolutionize the landscape of the academic technology transfer and funding for pioneering life sciences discoveries over the next 3-5 years. We explored the driving forces behind this paradigm shift and discovered why it’s set to dominate the industry. Through tangible use cases presented by visionary founders of brilliant and promising companies, moderated by Nana Bit-Avragim, Mentor and Advisor, EIT Health, we delved into how DeSci is addressing neglected bottlenecks in biomedicine, longevity, neurodegenerative, and rare diseases. Ample space was lef to debate about the future of life sciences. The debate also focused on topics like web3 and blockchain applications in longevity research and drug repurposing, with unique companies, as VitaDAO, Rymedi and Crowd Funded Cures, sharing their success stories.

Frontiers Health 2022

While in Milan, within the inspiring setting of Palazzo del Ghiaccio, considerable attention was devoted to the scientific landscape of the health innovation industry.

Biomedical Research

Our exploration began with a deep dive into Advances in Biomedical Research, featuring a multifaceted panel addressing a wide array of topics.

In this session, scientists from Achilles Therapeutics, San Raffaele University, Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy, showcased their groundbreaking work and engaged in discussions about their current and future applications. We discussed “Harnessing the immune system to fight cancer,” offering insights into the promising potential of immunotherapy. Following this, attendees have been treated to an exploration of “The long journey from bench to bedside: a story about engineered viruses, genes, and the promise of a cure.” Finally, the session concluded with a presentation on “Enlightening host-virus interactions: new technologies to understand and fight coronaviruses,” providing a timely discussion on the ongoing battle against emerging infectious diseases. It was a stimulating session that pushed the boundaries of scientific knowledge and inspired innovative approaches to tackling some of the most pressing health challenges of our time.

Digital Approaches in Drug Discovery and Development

Within the Frontiers Health Science Track, we also welcomed Drs. Daphna Laifenfeld, Robert Konrat, Salvatore Albani, and Karoly Nikolich to explore the diverse realms of digital approaches in pharmaceutical discovery and development. This dynamic panel delved into various facets, including the strategic utilization of real-world data, patient-derived cells, and pharmacological mechanisms. Specifically focusing on nervous system and immunological diseases, they unveiled the power of cutting-edge digital technologies, AI, and machine learning to revolutionize treatment paradigms.

Considering the integration of digital technologies into research and development (R&D), we organized a thought-provoking session led by Riccardo Mariani, R&D Project & Portfolio Management Director at Chiesi Group. Mariani presented a compelling case study titled “Digital Integration Along the R&D Value Chain in Pharma,” shedding light on this transformative aspect of pharmaceutical innovation. This presentation showcased the transformative potential of the new digital era in pharmaceutical research and development. Through a detailed examination of real-world examples and practical insights, Mariani highlighted the opportunities and challenges inherent in leveraging digital technologies across the entire R&D value chain.

Our attendees discovered how the pharmaceutical industry can effectively navigate the transition from digital hype to actionable strategies, as Mariani provided a roadmap for integrating digital solutions into every stage of the R&D process. From drug discovery to clinical trials and beyond, this session helped to unveil innovative approaches and best practices for maximizing the impact of digitalization in Pharma R&D.

Innovation in Clinical Research

As we continue to push the boundaries of scientific exploration, we invited our attendees to embark on a journey of discovery with our session on “Innovation in Clinical Research.” This session aims to showcase the evolving landscape of clinical trial procedures, as we delve into strategies aimed at enhancing data quality and promoting equitable access to research opportunities.

Leading the discussion is Antonella Levante, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Italy and Greece at IQVIA, who shed light on the latest advancements in clinical research methodologies. Our delegates gained valuable insights into how innovative approaches are driving improvements in data collection, patient engagement, and trial efficiency.

Additionally, we analyzed the approaches and procedures in clinical research, discovering how emerging trends such as digital health technologies, remote monitoring, and patient-centric trial designs are paving the way for more efficient and inclusive research practices.

Translational Medicine

At FH22 we also dedicated a specific segment to Translational Medicine. Translational Medicine (TM) spans the entire spectrum of activities from conceptualization to the creation of novel therapies and diagnostics for the betterment of patients. Ideally, the TM process should commence with active patient engagement and extend to the involvement of diverse stakeholders, ranging from basic scientists and clinical researchers to intellectual property and regulatory experts, as well as funders and industry professionals. However, in practice, many key players in TM operate within isolated silos, communicating predominantly in their specialized jargon and often losing sight of the broader context. In partnership with Eureka Institute, we organized a masterclass to provide insights on how Eureka works as alchemist to transform the centrifugal energies of each TM stakeholder into a coordinated and impactful process.

Our community discovered a new collaborative model of performing TM revolving around an understanding of patient and societal needs, rather than on an exceptional idea desperately looking for a market need.

Robotics and Multi-omics

As an integral part of our reflections, we also looked at research applications, specifically Robotics and Multi-omics.

We invited our delegates to discover how robotics are revolutionizing the treatment of cognitive impairments and advancing pharmaceutical manufacturing and learn about the transformative potential of multi-omics in personalized health and preventive medicine. A dedicated session posed the attention on the latest advancements driving efficiency and precision in drug production, and on how comprehensive molecular profiling is enabling personalized approaches to health management and disease prevention.

What to expect at FH24?

As we eagerly await the wealth of research breakthroughs poised to emerge from these innovations and their profound impact on healthcare and societies, we’re gearing up to deliver a truly immersive experience at #FH24.

Get ready for a riveting journey of discovery, with compelling insights, thought-provoking discussions, and exciting speakers from around the world. Secure your pass now to join us in Berlin and stay at the forefront of the ever-evolving landscape of science and biomedical innovation.

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