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The challenges in fighting blindness, epigenetics and cancer, diagnosing and treating rare diseases, the impact of childhood experiences on adult mental health, and the possibilities of artificial intelligence equaling or surpassing human intelligence are some of the topics on the 2016 program of B·Debate, an initiative of Biocat and the “la Caixa” Foundation to promote top-notch international scientific events in Barcelona.

The B·Debate program for 2016 features a total of 9 activities that will be carried out in collaboration with noteworthy research centers and bodies in Catalonia, like the UAB Institut de Neurociències, Institut de la Màcula i la Retina, Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB), Barcelona Science Park (PCB), Hospital Sant Joan de Déu, Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO), Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO), Center for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG), Autonomous University of Barcelona, and Institute of Evolutionary Biology (CSIC-UPF).

These activities are expected to bring together some 200 local and foreign experts in the various areas of knowledge within the life sciences, as well as more than 1,000 participants.

The program, in depth

The 2016 B·Debate program includes several areas of biomedical research, including mental health: experts will analyze the impact our experiences as children –whether positive or negative, like stressful episodes- have on our resilience –ability to overcome adverse situations- as adults.

Blindness will be another topic of debate: experts from various areas of science will meet in Barcelona to share their experience and discuss new cutting-edge therapeutic approaches to fight blindness caused by degenerative diseases that currently have no cure. New advances in diagnosing and treating rare diseases, and the challenges of developing drugs for this type of disease, will be another topic at B·Debate 2016.

Cancer will be the focus of two debates in 2016. On one hand, experts will debate how to transfer to clinical practice the scientific breakthroughs regarding the resistance of some patients to oncology treatments, which is the main reason these treatment fail. And, on the other, the program includes the fourth edition of the Barcelona Conference on Epigenetics and Cancer.

Regarding artificial intelligence, one of the activities in 2016 will debate whether it will ever equal or surpass human intelligence and analyze the latest breakthroughs in artificial intelligence applied to fields like medicine and engineering. Additionally, experts in imaging techniques will debate the latest advances in this area and their applications to everything from basic research in cell biology to drug development, clinical diagnosis and image-guided surgery.

Plant genomics will also have a place in B·Debate 2016, with experts analyzing the potential development of green industry in fields like biomaterials and renewable energy by applying advances in what is referred to as plant proteostasis. Another activity in 2016 will analyze the opportunities of industrial biotechnology for the Catalan economy.

The program has been created from proposals submitted in the B·Debate 2016 call, selected by the B·Debate Scientific Committee of renowned experts and scientists from the different areas of science in Catalonia. Their decision is based on the social interest of the challenges involved, the potential for disseminating knowledge and contents generated through the debates, and the chance of finding solutions to society’s needs. They also take into account how multidisciplinary the topics are and their global impact.

Since it was launched in 2009, B·Debate has held more than 50 activities in collaboration with 200 research centers, with more than 1,200 world-renowned speakers like Valentí Fuster and Jane Goodall, among many others, and some 7,200 participants.

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