Embassy Hosts Science and Tech Event
Washington, D.C. July 1, 2014
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The Embassy of France hosted a special gathering for the best French and American minds in science and technology during the annual NEST conference, held on July 1. NEST’s two-part conference celebrated the 50th anniversary of Inserm, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. A public research institute founded in 1964, Inserm operates under the joint authority of the French Ministry of Health and the French Ministry of Research.
The Networking Event in Science and Technology, (NEST), organized by the Embassy’s Office for Science and Technology, honored members of the each country’s scientific community, whose researchers are essential in helping to form lasting bilateral relations and increased knowledge sharing between the two countries in the respective fields.
François Delattre, Ambassador of France to the United States, provided remarks and welcomed participants during the conference.
Inserm, which was at the heart of the molecular medicine revolution, has long served as a leading authority on scientific and medical innovation, and is active most notably in the areas of cancer, genetics, immunology, neurology, and research. It remains one of the most important centers of research in Europe, with international cooperation agreements signed with countries throughout the world.
The organization includes two Nobel Prize-winning scientists, and contributes over 10,000 publications each year to the medical and technological field.
The conference focused particular attention on the French-American collaborations that Inserm was instrumental in fostering. While Inserm continues to maintain an active presence in the United States, several notable partnerships include the creation of a training workshop at Harvard Medical School, and the implementation of an Inserm research team at the Baylor Institute for Immunology and Research in Dallas, as well as at the University of California Irvine.
The partnerships enable critical discussions and information sharing, which are essential to the improvement in modern medicinal practices.
Mireille Guyader, representative of Inserm in the United States, and Minh-Hà Pham, Scientific Counselor for the Office of Science and Technology at the French Embassy, organized the seminar and gave the introductory speech to welcome the participants. Pascal Griset, historian, professor and co-author of th e book Au Coeur du Vivant – 50 Ans de l’Inserm, gave a detailed analysis of the history of Inserm as it evolved over the decades to respond to the different health challenges that France and the world faced. Thierry Damerval, Inserm’s Deputy Director-General, followed Mr. Griset’s speech and opened the discussion, “What is Inserm today?”
Other notable speakers included Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and 2009 winner of the Inserm International Prize, and George Koob, Director of the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse and director of an Inserm International Associated Laboratory.
The day featured a workshop which highlighted the organization’s commitment to research in health and life sciences. It also provided a forum through which French and American researchers and students could attend high-level scientific meetings in order to present and exchange information.
The first part of the event came to a close with a Signature of Cooperation Agreement between Inserm and the Embassy of France on the Chateaubriand Fellowship in Science. The award aims to build and strengthen existing French and American collaborations by providing grants and encouraging exchanges for doctoral students conducting research.
The second half of the conference centered on a brief scientific lecture given by Nathaniel Comfort of John Hopkins University, called “How personal is personalized medicine? The hope, hype, and history of the current revolution in healthcare.”
The day concluded with a reception and networking event that allowed the researchers, entrepreneurs, and administrators present the opportunity to come together and exchange best practice information.
The Office for Science and Technology has a staff of 24 team members who work at the Embassy of France and six consular offices. It promotes French-American cooperation in scientific and technological innovation.