Conference report ‘Migration, Health and Medicine’ released

The ALLEA-FEAM report of the conference ‘Migration, Health and Medicine’ is now available. The publication summarises the discussions of the event held in Brussels on 22 November 2019. It provides the basis for a scientifically sound analysis on migrant health and, among other topics, addresses the methods and strategies to collect valid and comparable data on this issue.

The conference was organised by ALLEA and the Federation of European Academies of Medicine (FEAM), and hosted by the Royal Academies of Medicine of Belgium (ARMB and KAGB) in collaboration with the French Academy of Medicine (ANM).

Migrant health from a scientific perspective

Migrant health is determined by multiple factors, from socio-economic aspects of health to biological and environmental interactions influencing the health of migrant populations. However, the generalisation of research findings from one community or from one country to the regional or global levels faces considerable hurdles.

From the policy side in Europe, the complexity increases due to the various levels of governance at the EU. Whereas many aspects of migration and health can be dealt with an EU approach, the provision of healthcare services is managed by Member States.

The report seeks to inform policy debates on this pressing issue from a scientific perspective. It also underlines the need for academia, policymakers, civil society and international organisations to join forces to provide scientifically validated data on the health of refugees and migrants across Europe and the world.

Breakthrough prize opens public nominations for its 2021 prizes in fundamental physics, life sciences & mathematics

New “Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prize” for early-career women in math dedicated to the legacy of the late Iranian mathematician

The public nomination period for the 2021 Breakthrough Prizes in Fundamental Physics, Life Sciences and Mathematics is now open. Prizes will be awarded in late 2020, during a live, globally televised gala awards ceremony in Silicon Valley.

Nominations can be submitted online today through April 1, 2020. While self-nominations are prohibited, anyone may nominate another person. The nomination forms and rules are available at

For the ninth year, the Breakthrough Prize, recognized as the world’s largest science prize, will honor top scientists, handing out up to four prizes in Life Sciences, one in Fundamental Physics and one in Mathematics. Each prize comes with a $3 million award. Furthermore, up to six New Horizons Prizes, each for $100,000, will be presented to promising early-career researchers in the fields of Physics and Mathematics.

In addition, for the first time, nominations will be taken for the Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prize – an annual $50,000 award that will be presented to early-career women mathematicians who have completed their PhDs within the previous two years.

The Breakthrough Prize, dubbed ‘The Oscars of Science,’ hosts a gala awards ceremony to celebrate the laureates’ achievements and to foster broad popular support for scientific endeavors and inspire the next generation of scientists. As part of the schedule, the prizewinners also engage in a program of lectures and discussions at a daylong symposium after the ceremony.

For the fourth year, the Breakthrough Prize will partner with two prestigious institutions – the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities (ALLEA) and ResearchGate – to directly engage with researchers and the science community.

ALLEA brings together more than 50 academies from over 40 countries in Europe, with members leading scholarly enquiry across all fields of the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities.

ResearchGate accesses a network of more than 16 million verified scientists from 193 countries and all fields of science and mathematics to connect and share their research – current and past. ResearchGate members are encouraged to nominate their peers for the 2021 prizes in Fundamental Physics, Life Sciences, and Mathematics.

The Breakthrough Prizes are sponsored by Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, Pony Ma, Yuri and Julia Milner, and Anne Wojcicki. Selection Committees are composed of previous Breakthrough Prize laureates, who select the winners from the list of candidates generated during the nomination period.

Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics

One 2021 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics ($3 million) will recognize an individual(s) who has made profound contributions to human knowledge. It is open to all physicists – theoretical, mathematical and experimental – working on the deepest mysteries of the Universe. The prize can be shared among any number of scientists. Nominations are also open for the New Horizons in Physics Prize, which will include up to three $100,000 awards for early-career researchers who have already produced important work in their fields.

The Selection Committee for the 2021 physics prizes includes: Nima Arkani-Hamed, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Charles L. Bennett, Sheperd Doeleman, Lyn Evans, Michael B. Green, Alan Guth, Joseph Incandela, Takaaki Kajita, Charles Kane, Alexei Kitaev, Maxim Kontsevich, Andrei Linde, Arthur McDonald, Juan Maldacena, Eugene Mele, Lyman Page, Saul Perlmutter, Alexander Polyakov, Adam Riess, John H. Schwarz, Nathan Seiberg, Ashoke Sen, David N. Spergel, Andrew Strominger, Kip S. Thorne, Cumrun Vafa, Yifang Wang, Rainer Weiss and Edward Witten.

Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

Up to four 2021 Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences ($3 million each) will be awarded to individuals who have made transformative advances in understanding living systems and extending human life.

The Selection Committee for the 2021 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences includes: C. David Allis, James P. Allison, Victor Ambros, Angelika Amon, Cornelia I. Bargmann, Alim Louis Benabid, C. Frank Bennett, David Botstein, Edward S. Boyden, Lewis C. Cantley, Emmanuelle Charpentier, Zhijian “James” Chen, Joanne Chory, Don W. Cleveland, Hans Clevers, Karl Deisseroth, Titia de Lange, Mahlon R. DeLong, Jennifer A. Doudna, Stephen J. Elledge, Napoleone Ferrara, Jeffrey M. Friedman, Michael N. Hall, John Hardy, F. Ulrich Hartl, Helen Hobbs, Arthur L. Horwich, David Julius, Adrian Krainer, Eric S. Lander, Robert Langer, Virginia Man-Yee Lee, Richard P. Lifton, Kazutoshi Mori, Kim Nasmyth, Harry F. Noller, Roeland Nusse, Yoshinori Ohsumi, Svante Pääbo, Gary Ruvkun, Charles L. Sawyers, Alexander Varshavsky, Bert Vogelstein, Peter Walter, Robert A. Weinberg, Shinya Yamanaka, Xiaowei Zhuang and Huda Zoghbi.

Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics

One 2021 Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics ($3 million) will be awarded to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field of mathematics. Nominations are also open for the New Horizons in Mathematics Prize, which will include up to three $100,000 awards for early-career researchers who have already produced important work in their fields. In addition, one $50,000 Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prize will be awarded. This prize can be shared among one or more mathematicians.

The Selection Committee for the 2021 math prizes includes: Ian Agol, Alex Eskin, Simon Donaldson, Maxim Kontsevich, Christopher Hacon, Vincent Lafforgue, Jacob Lurie, James McKernan, Terence Tao and Richard Taylor.

Information on the Breakthrough Prizes is available at

Understanding public discourse and trust in a digital society

In a context where citizens struggle to distinguish facts from fabricated claims online, scientists, policymakers and media face similar dilemmas. The digital revolution is disrupting the norms and mechanisms of the public debate where they participate and of the public trust that they need to operate. A new report published by ALLEA and Re-Imagine Europa examines this changing communications environment and its effects on Europe’s value-system and democracy.

The report compiles the key takeaways of the conference ‘Democracy in a Digital Society: Trust, Evidence ad Public Discourse in a Changing Media Environment’ hosted by the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Berlin on 24 January 2019.

The forum brought together academic knowledge, media expertise and policy experience in a series of multi-stakeholder panels and workshops. The report collects the insights of these discussions, including contributions from the now European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Mariya Gabriel and the President of Re-Imagine Europa and former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing.

Taming the digital revolution?

The starting point of the report is a call for identifying the opportunities and threats of the third revolution of communications technologies. From a historical perspective, the stakes are high. “While it took two-thousand years to tame writing, it only took two-hundred years to tame printing, resulting in the flourishing of the Enlightenment”, warns ALLEA President Antonio Loprieno.

“New technologies have repeatedly disrupted established cultures of communication. It took two-and-a-half centuries to get the culture of copyright, the laws of defamation, the conceptions of intellectual property, that reconciled – to some extent – what was done by the arrival of printing”, adds Philosopher Onora O’Neill, Fellow of the British Academy and Co-chair of the ALLEA Working Group Truth, Trust and Expertise.

Against this background, the report explores the political distress that digital disinformation and artificial intelligence may be able to inflict on European values and democracy. Commissioner Gabriel argues for “a digital future where core European values, such as freedom of expression, privacy, democracy and data protection, are fully respected”.

The reconciliation of European values with technological change is a recurring issue in this conversation. New institutions and a rethinking of our legal framework are needed to ensure that online data-based business models thrive for the benefit of society, experts agree. From a media perspective, some first principles to enable a healthy public discourse are proposed by Christophe Leclercq, Executive Chairman at the Euractiv Foundation: “Avoid censors. Dilute fake news. Promote quality content”.

Next steps

This report closes the final stage of the ALLEA Working Group Truth, Trust and Expertise, whose findings were also explored in three discussion papers: ‘Loss of Trust in Expertise? Loss of Trustworthiness? Truth and Expertise Today‘, ‘Trust Within Science: Dynamics and Norms of Knowledge Production’ and ‘Trust in Science and Changing Communication Landscapes’.

To continue this programme of action, ALLEA is now involved in the international research project PEriTiA (Policy, Expertise and Trust in Action). Funded by the EU research and innovation programme Horizon 2020, the project investigates the conditions under which citizens trust or distrust expertise used for public policy.


Picture credit: Elijah O’ Donnell