The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters announces the 2020 Kavli Prize Laureates

Research in observational X-ray astronomy, inventions of aberration-corrected lenses in electron microscopes, and the discovery of sensory receptors for temperature and pressure win USD 3 million Kavli Prizes

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Member Academy of ALLEA, announced the 2020 Kavli Prize Laureates in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience today. This year’s Kavli Prize honours scientists whose research has transformed our understanding of the very big, the very small and the very complex. The laureates in each field will share USD 1 million.

This year’s Kavli Prize Laureates are:

  • Kavli Prize in Astrophysics: Andrew Fabian (UK)
  • Kavli Prize in Nanoscience: Harald Rose (Germany), Maximilian Haider (Austria), Knut Urban (Germany) and Ondrej L Krivanek (UK and Czech Republic)
  • Kavli Prize in Neuroscience: David Julius (US) and Ardem Patapoutian (US)

“The 2020 Kavli Prize Laureates represent truly pioneering science, the kind of science which will benefit humanity in a profound way, inspiring both current and future generations,” says Hans Petter Graver, president of The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

More details available at the Kavli Prize website.

Climate Change Education should focus more on mitigation, adaptation, and climate justice

Climate Change Education initiatives in addition to looking at causes of climate change need to expand to focus more on mitigation and adaptation, and help students understand that mitigation is not only crucial for future generations but is also essential for current disadvantaged populations on whom climate change is having the biggest impact.

These are some of the conclusions of a recently published ALLEA report “A snapshot of Climate Change Education Initiatives in Europe: Initial findings and implications for future Climate Change Education”. The document has been prepared by ALLEA’s Science Education Working Group and contains recommendations based on an on-line survey of existing initiatives complemented by educational research literature and the expertise of the scholars who conducted this work.

The report’s further headline recommendations include amongst others:

  • Existing high-quality examples of Climate Change Education resources for different age groups should be collated so that educators throughout Europe could use them in different educational settings.
  • The development, implementation and assessment of high-quality professional development programmes for teachers and the impact of these professional development programmes on the teaching and learning about climate change should be focused on.
  • More local initiatives that are fully contextualised and address the needs of communities should be developed.
  • Climate Change Education resources and programmes should adopt more solution-oriented and collective action approaches to climate change.

Cliona Murphy, chair of the working group who wrote the report commented:

“It is encouraging to see that there is a myriad of educational resources available to support teachers in teaching about climate change. However, it is also apparent that climate change education faces numerous challenges that require urgent actions, actions that will require significant financial support. It is essential therefore that a funding framework, perhaps similar to those of the highly successful FP6 and FP7 EU funding Frameworks, is established to support research in and the development of effective approaches for teaching and learning about Climate Change.”

The online survey was administered by ALLEA and shared with its membership of more than 50 sciences academies across Europe, which were encouraged to further reach out to relevant universities, education providers and outreach organisations that address climate change education in their work.

Thus, this scoping survey maps a sample of current Climate Change Education initiatives in a non-exhaustive way, to identify commonalities, gaps, and best practices. While the sample in the current study is relatively small, it provides informative and relevant findings that are particularly timely taking cognisance that climate change is one of the key challenges identified by the European Commission in their 2020 Work Plan among others. Key findings from this exercise aim to inform a more representative large-scale survey of Climate Change Education initiatives throughout Europe.

New project: international transfer of health data for research

ALLEA is pleased to announce a new project on international transfer of health data for research. The initiative is the first tripartite collaboration between ALLEA, EASAC, and FEAM and will examine various aspects of data sharing in health research with particular attention to the implications of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Data sharing is an essential part of modern research. Within medical research, pooled data on individuals are often needed to ensure sufficiently large study numbers, and to replicate findings and identify complex pathways. The EU General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 (GDPR) has harmonised legislation on the processing of personal data within the European Economic Area (EAA, which comprises EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway). However, substantial challenges remain for data sharing outside of the EEA. In particular, there is a lack of non-consent based transfer mechanisms that can be used for sharing personal data with public institutions in other countries such as the USA. 

This project aims to: 

  • illustrate the value of multinational medical research
  • compare the potential of different solutions for ensuring sufficient transfer of health data outside of the EEA; 
  • inform the European Institutions in the forthcoming evaluation of the GDPR, especially with regard to the transfer of personal data outside of the EEA (chapter V) so as to improve procedures for international transfer of high quality, personal research data, safely and effectively. 
  • The project will exemplify how data sharing adds value to EU research and its translation to policy, innovation and practice, and it will clarify principles and options for reform taking into consideration the legal, ethical, and in particular privacy implications. 

 Joint project

This project is the first tripartite collaboration between ALLEAEASACand FEAM and will benefit from the complementary expertise joined in these networks. ALLEA has significant interest in sharing and using data (e.g. “Flourishing in a data-enabled society” and  “Sustainable and FAIR data sharing in the Humanities”) and will ensure that the project takes a broad and interdisciplinary perspective. EASAC has a history of interest in optimising the use of health research data, and worked together with FEAM in providing evidence on the value of research and the need for collaborative activity, in previous discussions with the European Commission and Parliament (e.g. ‘’Protecting health and scientific research in the Data Protection Regulation’’). FEAM has collaborated with numerous health stakeholders to issue recommendations in view of the discussions preceding the GDPR (e.g. “Ensuring a healthy future for scientific research through the Data Protection Regulation”).  

Migrants need better access to healthcare, European Academies say

EU and national authorities need to act now to support the health of migrants, according to European academy networks ALLEA and FEAM.

In a joint statement published today, European academy networks ALLEA and FEAM call on EU and national authorities to undertake crucial actions to support the health of migrants. This situation has become more critical as the lack of basic services and overcrowded conditions in refugee camps start to sound alarms all over Europe, especially during the coronavirus crisis.

The statement reviewed evidence showing that, in contrast to previous concerns, the transmission of communicable diseases from migrants does not appear to be a substantial problem. However, evidence also shows that migrants and other vulnerable populations are at high risk for several non-communicable and communicable diseases, including COVID-19.

“During this terrible crisis the issue of migrant health has been almost completely forgotten in Europe,” says Professor Luciano Saso, Vice-Rector for European University Networks of Sapienza University of Rome. “Forcibly displaced migrants are still struggling to reach Europe, exposing themselves to COVID-19. The incipient economic crisis threatens to further reduce the resources allocated by the EU to face migrant health issues.”

Academies recommend wider and easier access to healthcare services for forced migrants, and at least basic and emergency healthcare for irregular or undocumented migrants. Early access to healthcare may also lead to cost-savings for host countries.

According to Professor Alfred Spira, a member of the French Academy of Medicine,

All international and European legal instruments recognise the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, and all EU Member States should act to allow access to these basic human rights for everyone, including migrants and refugees.”

The coronavirus crisis has provided a global opportunity to enhance the integration of migrants while addressing shortages of healthcare workers. The recommendations within this statement, though drafted before the COVID-19 outbreak began, have acquired new relevance as several countries such as Germany, the UK, the US and Australia are incorporating refugees with foreign qualifications to address shortages in their health workforce.

The document concludes that reliable, validated and comparable data across countries and regions is the key element that will inform policies and confront myths around migration and health. Academies offer their support to lead the dialogue and scientific work to guide policies in this complex area.

This statement has been published at a time when developing evidence-based policies is particularly important. These recommendations, if transformed into policy, will enhance the protection of migrant health and of public health overall.

The recommendations from the academies include:

  • More scientifically validated data and frequent updates on migrant health should be produced and reflected in evidenced-based policies.
  • Increased cross-sectorial collaboration is needed to address current challenges in migrant health, also with a view towards tackling shortages of healthcare workers.
  • The health sector should be actively involved in policy discussions and actions on migration.
  • National health systems should allow for personal health information to be easily transportable and accessible while ensuring the protection of personal data.

The statement and the full set of recommendations is available in the publications section.  

This statement came about as the result of a joint ALLEA-FEAM conference on Migration, Health and Medicine held on 22 November 2019 in Brussels. Attended by stakeholders from research, policy and the civil society, this event strove to approach the topic of migrant health from a multidisciplinary, cross-sectoral point of view and in a coordinated fashion transcending national boundaries. This places the Academies of Sciences and Medicine in a critical position as they offer impartial scientific advice to policymakers for taking informed decisions.