2013 Disputatio image




Saló de Cent, Barcelona City Council, 28 November 2013

Inaugural event of the Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Academia Europaea, in commemoration of the 750 anniversary of the Barcelona Disputatio

The Barcelona Knowledge Hub Disputatio

With the title Social and state-of-the-art Medicine: defining the way forward, the inaugural event of the Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Academia Europaea took place on the 28 November 2013 in the Barcelona City Council.

Two speakers working in different areas were invited to share their views and to discuss on the access to medical resources and their distribution and related issues.

  • Mara Dierssen, neuroscientist, group leader of Cellular and Systems Neurobiology of the Systems Biology Programme at the Centre for Genomic Regulation, and president of the Spanish Society for Neuroscience.

“Strategic and legislative efforts to catalyse pharmaceutical innovation may be hampered by a lack of consensus over what characterizes an innovative drug. Advances in the understanding of the molecular basis of diseases mainly in academia have expanded the number of plausible therapeutic targets for the development of innovative agents. However, these advances and the substantial increase in investment in pharmaceutical research have yielded compounds that are only marginally better, but much more expensive, than existing therapies. The barriers that challenge effective therapy discovery will increase in the forthcoming years due to the dramatic underinvestment in basic science, and the shift of resources away from drug discovery to late clinical development. This could be overcome if academic institutions, and not-for-profit organizations, with no direct economic benefit in are included in the drug development scenario.”

  • Thomas Pogge, philosopher and president of the Health Impact Fund, Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University, Director of the Global Justice Program and Board Member of Academics Stand Against Poverty.

“The value of an innovation crucially depends on its dissemination. It is therefore counterproductive to reward innovations by allowing the innovator to charge very high patent-protected prices. We should instead reward innovations from public funds according to the social value each of them actually creates. This alternative system is especially attractive in the area of pharmaceutical innovation. Without increasing the social cost of innovation, it would greatly improve access to new medicines, thereby producing huge gains in justice and public health.”

In contrast to the 1263 Barcelona Disputatio, in our modern day Disputatio speakers are not expected to defend contrary ideas, but to analyse the matter from complementary points of view. The Disputatio of the Academia Europaea is thus rather a «collaboratio».

Opening addresses included the Mayor of Barcelona, Mr. Xavier Trias, the President of the AE, Prof. Lars Walløe, and the Minister of Economy and Knowledge of the Government of Catalonia and member of the AE Executive Board, Prof. Andreu Mas-Colell. The Vice president of the AE, Prof. Sierd Cloetingh, and its Executive Secretary, Dr. David Coates, as well as The Secretary of Universities and Research, the Director General for Universities and the Director General for Research of the Government of Catalonia were also at the event.

The event was organised by a working group including staff of the Barcelona Knowledge Hub and staff at the Directorate General for Research. Staff of the Barcelona City Council was also involved in the organisation.