Welcome to the blog from the 21st General Meeting of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS), in Hyderabad, India.
So is this yet another developing countries’ meeting on their science struggles? Not exactly. The mood is upbeat, as several developing countries that have witnessed enormous changes in science since TWAS held its first meeting in Trieste in 1985 can testify.
Take Hyderabad, for example. A somewhat sedate city when TWAS was founded over two decades ago, Hyderabad today is host to cutting-edge biology institutes such as the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology and Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics; and a global biotechnology and information technology hub. Brazil, China, Rwanda and South Africa have similar success stories to tell.
TWAS meetings are changing too.
Their initial major goals were to provide a forum where scientists from the developing world could discuss critical issues of common concern and showcase their science, and to create a bridge between scientists and science policymakers.
The second TWAS meeting was held in Beijing, with 150 participants from 50 countries. The Beijing meeting featured in Nature as one of a handful of scientific meetings in the second half of the 20th century that had a significant impact on scientific discourse.
TWAS 2010 will have 350 participants from 54 countries. The emphasis is shifting to strengthening the research–policy interface, expanding South-South collaboration and on the work of young scientists. There is growing concern, too, that discussions need to focus more on countries and scientists that have yet to fully participate in the growing scientific capabilities of developing countries.
India’s prime minister Manmohan Singh will open the meeting, followed by an Africa–India ministerial round table. Other key developing countries’ concerns on the agenda include tuberculosis, typhoid vaccine and zinc deficiency. And there is other exciting science stuff — I personally like the sound of munching black holes (yummy!) and growing galaxies.
SciDev.Net blog will be updating you daily, so please watch this space.
T V Padma, South Asia Regional Coordinator, SciDev.Net