Graduate Student Association Highlight of 2017: The Future of Science Symposium

The Future of Science Symposium, hosted by Dunn School Graduate Student Association (GSA), took place on 28th September 2017. It coincided with the 90th anniversary of the Dunn School and the goal was to discuss what will most likely dominate the next decade of science. Nearly 200 people packed the Medical Sciences Teaching Centre for a day full of three exciting sessions and a panel discussion. Open to everyone in the Medical Sciences division, the student-led symposium brought together academics, policymakers, leaders in the biotech sector and publishers, amongst others, who are actively building the future of the scientific world at different fronts.

This event provided students and postdoctoral researchers with an opportunity to listen, network and discuss with the distinguished speakers on the new avenues that the future of science will bring. The talks covered 7 main themes: innovation, biotechnology, research, policy, publishing, artificial intelligence and science communication. The Q&A sessions after each talk contributed further to the exciting atmosphere of the symposium. The panel discussion explored a diverse range of topics: from what makes scientists and how researchers can influence the policies to the impact of public engagement and the changes needed to improve the publishing process. The panelist Sir John Walker along with John Tregoning, Story Sylwester, Jo Dally and Ben Goldacre focused on the challenges that the academic field is currently facing, and how to overcome these difficulties as young researchers progress in their scientific careers. The discussion was interactive and also featured questions that the symposium participants were posting live on Twitter.

The day-long symposium showcased a number of inspiring talks that answered some of the most interesting and at times unexpected questions including: What is the role of AI in biology? How are the Nobel Prizes awarded? Can you find a hook to make people listen to your science? How is Nature remodeling its impact factor? What is the UK Leading Edge Healthcare Challenge? And much more 

The GSA is grateful for the generous support from the event sponsors; the Medical Sciences Skills Training and the Dunn School for making the symposium possible. The organisers received positive and valuable feedback from guest speakers and symposium-goers. Here are some of the key messages shared by the experts:

-“Fundamental discovery requires stable and long-term support.” Prof Sir John Walker, Nobel Laureate

- “The future of biotechnology is about convergence. “ Dr Eliot Forster, CEO Immunocore and Executive Chair of MedCity

-“These are exciting times for UK innovation and you are the people who are creating the future.” Dr Ruth McKernan, CBE, Chief Executive, Innovate UK

It was a landmark event that undoubtedly opened up a new perspective on how science will innovate and grow in future.

To view all the talks, and for more information about the speakers and programme please visit:

Don’t forget to follow GSA on Twitter @Dunn_GSA and facebook


GSA symposium organising committee:

Mariya Lobanovska (Tang Lab), Philipp Kruger (Dushek Lab), Ulrike Kuenzel (Freeman lab), Bernadeta Dadonaite (Fodor lab), Derek Xu (Baena-Lopez lab), Giulia Pilla (Tang lab), Ana Wallis (Nieduszynski lab), John Nguyen (Dushek lab), Benjamin Dodsworth (James lab), Ines Alvarez Rodrigo (Raff lab), Heather Jeffery (Nieduszynski lab), Scarlett Harris (Sattentau lab), Jessica Valli (Gluenz lab), Jessica Hardy (Norbury lab).

Panel discussion featuring (left to right) John Tregoning, Jo Dally Story, Sylwester, Sir John Walker and Ben Goldacre. The panel was chaired by Dunn School DPhil student Bernadeta Dadonaite.