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Society

SNF Nostos Conference Draws to a Close after a 2nd Day of a Wide-Ranging Perspectives on Health

ATHNES – The second and final day of the 2022 SNF Nostos Conference brought together diverse perspectives—both deeply personal and deeply informed—on a wide variety of aspects of health, from war’s lingering effects on public health, to how music can contribute to social health, to the scientific potential of stem cells.

Attendees, in person and online, were active participants in the discussion, throwing questions to the speakers and weighing in on bioethical scenarios by voting through their phones.

Building on the foundation laid by day one of the conference, which took the SNF Health Initiative as its starting point, day two began with a conversation featuring Nobel laureate Richard Axel on a paradox in society: this time of great scientific advancement is also a time of great mistrust in science.

Today as yesterday, members of the SNF Nostos Youth Advisory Committee—Joy, Gerald, and Thibeaux—played the role of hosts, sharing from their own experiences as a woman in science, as a refugee, as someone who experienced severe anxiety during the pandemic.
Would you participate in a clinical trial for a new vaccine? Would you use a chatbot for mental health services? A live, digital poll queried the audience’s stance on a few timely bioethical issues before and again after a discussion between bioethicists from around the world, who discussed what those results meant for their field.

(Photo via snf.org)

Leaders from Médecins Sans Frontières discussed how to respond to the ways in which war degrades a population’s collective “immune system,” and leaders of health organizations working worldwide, from Ghana to Switzerland, talked about how we can address the deep inequalities in care and access to care that prevail.

We heard about the power of music to connect people across divides and potentially lead to healing, then witnessed firsthand the collaborative interplay it creates in a performance of Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet by the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. We saw a robot analyzing cells in New York live on camera from Athens as we learned about how the New York Stem Cell Foundation does its research work.

New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman, founder of the Headway initiative, moderated a panel on how design and nature contribute to the physical health of individuals, and, very much relatedly, to the social health of communities. Columbia University Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry Sander Markx presented three case studies giving a glimpse into the potential of precision medicine to change lives.

(Photo via snf.org)

The capstone to a fascinating day of ideas was an SNF Dialogues discussion, where young people from around the globe gathered to talk about social media and the mental imprint it’s leaving on their generation, “Generation Social.”

SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos brought the conference to a close by weaving together various crucial threads from the exchanges of the past two days and zooming out to provide big-picture perspective on all we’ve heard and seen.
SNF Nostos Health may be over, but the questions, ideas, and avenues of exploration raised will guide us as we push forward toward equitable access to quality health care for all. Let’s keep the conversation on health going!

Look back at the full schedule and rewatch individual events.

*The SNF Nostos Conference is organized by SNF in collaboration with journalism nonprofit iMEdD (incubator for Media Education and Development)

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