Connecting Life Sciences Innovators – Innovate in healthcare with CERN

On 18th March, this online event explored how CERN technology can accelerate innovation in healthcare.


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On 18th March, the Medical Applications section of the CERN Knowledge  Transfer (KT) group and BioAlps, the Life Sciences Cluster of Western Switzerland, hosted the joint online event “Connecting Life Sciences Innovators – Innovate in healthcare with CERN”.  While CERN is known to be the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, this event presented how technological breakthroughs developed at CERN can support actors in the medtech and biotech domains to innovate patient diagnostics and treatment. 

The joint welcome address given by Giovanni Anelli, the KT group leader, Claude Joris, the Secretary General of the BioAlps association and Alexandre Epalle, the Director General of the Economic and Innovation department of the State of Geneva, highlighted the importance of collaboration between actors in the local Medtech ecosystem including CERN as an innovation partner.

Following an introduction to CERN’s knowledge-transfer activities, a roundtable discussion allowed long-standing collaborators to provide an insight on their experiences of working with CERN and to share their success stories. All described an overall positive experience. They especially complimented the collaborative and innovative spirit they had encountered while exchanging ideas and addressing challenges with CERN researchers.

Prof Jean Bourhis, Head of the Radiation Oncology Department at the Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, talked about the collaboration with CERN for the realisation of a pioneering facility for FLASH radiotherapy. He appreciated the uniqueness of CERN’s invaluable expertise and know-how in the key technical aspects of the project.

Prof Anthony Butler, Chief Medical Officer and Co-Founder of MARS Bioimaging, joined the discussion from New Zealand and shared how CERN’s worldwide network of scientists had played its part in the development of his company and their 3D colour X-ray scanner which uses Medipix detector technology . Sharing his experience, he described CERN as “honest and committed partners with a real desire to demonstrate societal benefit from their technologies”.

Finally, Dr. Sandro Rossi, Director General of CNAO, elaborated on CERN’s longstanding and ongoing relationship with the Italian hadrontherapy centre. He stressed that the CERN values of openness and a scientific collaborative spirit were just as important as the large variety of competences in multiple technical domains.

Manuela Cirilli, the Medical Applications Section Leader, expressed the importance of building bridges between CERN, the clinical world, and medtech companies. There are many known applications for CERN technologies in the medical domain but there are also without doubt, many as yet unexplored areas where CERN technology could provide solutions.

After the webinar, some participants had the opportunity to take part in virtual one on one meeting with CERN KT Officers. The organisers hope that the event has raised awareness about CERN’s potential as a partner and will lead to fruitful collaborations.