Forum honors top scientists in Shanghai

By LIN SHUJUAN in Shanghai (China Daily) Updated : 2022-11-08

Award laureates hail importance of basic science research, cooperation

The World Laureates Forum, an annual gathering of top scientists from across the world since 2018, kicked off its fifth edition in Shanghai on Sunday with an award ceremony for the inaugural WLA Prize, which is set to bring new impetus to global scientific research and exchanges.

The WLA Prize, established by the World Laureates Association last year to recognize and support eminent researchers and technologists worldwide for their contributions to science, announced its two inaugural winners in September.

Computer scientist and statistician Michael I. Jordan from the United States won the award for computer science or mathematics, while German biochemist Dirk Goerlich received the prize in life science or medicine.

Both came to Shanghai for the award ceremony and the annual forum, which runs through Monday. Each winner was awarded a prize of 10 million yuan ($1.37 million).

"The prizes are awarded for achievements in basic science. In the understandable rush to solve practical problems and also to profit from science, it is often forgotten that basic science is foundational," said Roger Kornberg, chairman of the WLA and a Nobel laureate in 2006.

Jordan said the three missions of the WLA — promoting basic science, advocating international cooperation and supporting the growth of young people — are strikingly aligned with the vision he outlined in the field of machine learning and artificial intelligence, which must also thrive and be realized through international cooperation. The scientist was awarded for his fundamental contribution to the theoretical basis of machine learning and its applications.

Goerlich introduced his research process in the field of cells. He said as his discovery of a new biological state was far ahead of its time, it went from not being recognized by the academic community to being gradually affirmed, which was "a wonderful recognition for a long and difficult journey".

John Hennessy, the winner of the 2017 Turing Award, said, "What's really important about this prize is that it inspires young people to think about the importance of science and technology and basic research."

Neil Shen, founding and managing partner of Sequoia China, which is the exclusive sponsor of the WLA Prize, said the aim of the awards is to create a richer and more inclusive scientific research ecology, and to encourage scientists to explore the unknown and embrace their eureka moments.

As one of the world's largest science and technology conventions, the World Laureates Forum was initiated by the WLA in 2018.

This year's event, themed "Science Forward: Create a Bright Future", has attracted 60 winners of top science awards, including 27 Nobel Prize laureates, for speeches and discussions on topics ranging from the future of digital intelligence to the shared future of human health.