BSC brings together the alliance of centres of excellence in research to analyze the great challenges of science

07 November 2022

More than 200 representatives of the Spanish scientific community have attended the sixth edition of the annual meeting of the Severo Ochoa and María de Maeztu Alliance (SOMMa)

Under the title “Science for the future. Building a fairer and more sustainable horizon”, the researchers discussed current scientific challenges such as climate change or resistance to superbugs

The event, co-organized by the Barcelona Supercomputing Center –Centro Nacional de Supercomputación (BSC-CNS) and SOMMa, was held at the Royal Palace of Pedralbes in Barcelona on November 3 and 4

The 100xCiencia.6 meeting: “Science for the future. Building a fairer and more sustainable horizon”, co-organized by the Barcelona Supercomputing Center – Centro Nacional de Supercomputación (BSC-CNS) together with the Severo Ochoa and María de Maeztu Alliance (SOMMa), has brought together more than 200 attendees in Barcelona at the Royal Palace of Pedralbes to analyze the great challenges of science today, such as climate change and resistance to superbugs.

The director of BSC, Mateo Valero, opened the conference highlighting: “Science must be excellent, but above all relevant to solving society's problems. And in this sense, the BSC is an example of collaboration between the research community, the administration and industry”.

For her part, María Blasco, president of SOMMa and director of the National Cancer Research Center (CNIO), assured that the SOMMa alliance "has the potential to continue generating science of excellence for the future and inspire other centres to continue working hard to maintain or obtain accreditation”.

The Secretary General for Research of the Ministry of Science and Innovation, Raquel Yotti, also present at the meeting, highlighted the strategic role of the alliance: "SOMMa is setting a benchmark for the research community and its role is essential to continue improving the scientific ecosystem of our country”. Recently, the Ministry of Science and Innovation has announced an increase in funding for the Severo Ochoa and María de Maeztu aid programme, which will go from 44 million euros to 54 million.

The State Research Agency, managing body of the SOMMa accreditations, was represented at 100xCiencia by its director, Domènec Espriu, who reiterated during his speech the continuity of the Severo Ochoa Centres of Excellence Program and the María de Maeztu Units of Excellence, as well as the global increase in predoctoral contracts.

Janet Kelso, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Germany), offered the outstanding conference of the day, in which she shared the latest technological advances that have made it possible to recover and sequence DNA from bones and other remains found in archaeological excavations, reconstructing the genomes of various Neanderthals. The South African scientist is part of the Department of Evolutionary Genetics directed by Svante Pääbo, recently awarded the 2022 Nobel Prize in Medicine.

Featured Sessions

The morning session of 100xCiencia.6 addressed the subject of basic research and the foundation of great discoveries with the participation of Alberto Enciso, from the Institute of Mathematical Sciences (ICMAT) of the CSIC; Pilar Hernández Gamazo, from the Institute of Corpuscular Physics (IFIC); Andreu Mas-Colell, from Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) and the European Research Council (ERC); and Cristina Pujades, from the UPF Department of Medicine and Life Sciences (MELIS). The session was moderated by the journalist Josep Corbella from La Vanguardia.

In the second table of the morning, dedicated to the great challenges of health, María Blasco participated, representing SOMMa and the CNIO; Alfonso Valencia, from the BSC; Josep Samitier, from the Institute of Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC); and Xavier Prats-Monné, from the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), moderated by El País journalist Patricia Fernández de Lis.

The afternoon session featured a round table dedicated to climate emergency and sustainable development, with the participation of Ethel Eljarrat, from the Institute for Environmental Diagnosis and Water Studies (IDAEA); Josep M. Antó, from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal); Enrique Quesada Moraga, from the Department of Agronomy of the University of Córdoba (DAUCO); and Salvador Samitier, from the Catalan Office for Climate Change. The moderator of the session was the Newtral journalist Mario Viciosa.

The last table was dedicated to Artificial Intelligence and digitization, and was attended by Davide Cirillo, from the BSC; Lucía Velasco, from the Florence School of Transnational Governance (EUI); Ferdinando Villa, from the Basque Center for Climate Change (BC3); Roberta Zambrini, from the Institute of Interdisciplinary Physics and Complex Systems (IFISC); and the moderation of the journalist from Forbes and D+I El Español Esther Molina.

The SOMMa alliance brings together 59 leading Spanish research entities with nearly 12,000 researchers from different disciplines. Its objective is to promote Spanish science through the recognition of existing cutting-edge research centres, as well as to help them increase their impact and international scientific leadership and their competitiveness.