ONE Conference 2022: why to attend and how to meet me there?

The ONE Conference 2022 (Health, Environment, Society) – a four-day event happening in Brussels and online, is coming! Register and meet me there ️(Brussels & online, 21-24 June) as one of panelists of the “Turning open science into practice: causality as a showcase” thematic session as part of “ONE society” thematic track.

ONE Conference 2022 provides its attendees with a series of break-out sessions grouped in four thematic tracks – ONE Life, ONE Planet, ONE Society and MANY Ways. The sessions are complemented by side events and networking opportunities for both in-person and online participants, where some side events, in the form of workshops, will take place before the formal start of the conference.

The ONE Conference 2022 is co-organised by EFSA and its European sister agencies – the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control [ECDC], the European Chemicals Agency [ECHA], the European Environment Agency [EEA] and the European Medicines Agency [EMA] and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), with the ambition of embracing a ONE Health and ONE Society approaches.

Briefly about the above mentioned thematic tracks:

  • the ONE Society sessions will put the societal dimension of food safety and its ecosystem in the spotlight: from the role of society in policy making, to collaboration and partnerships right through to bringing research closer to policy. Dolors Montserrat from the European Parliament’s ENVI Committee will speak on the panel addressing citizens’ participation in EU decision-making, while former Dutch Minister Gerda Verburg from the Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) Movement features in the session on collaboration among actors in the food safety field. Michael Catchpole, Chief Scientist of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), will moderate the discussion on how ENVI agencies can work together to support research and bridge the gap between research and policy. Meanwhile, Shani Evenstein Sigalov, member of the Wikimedia Foundation and lecturer at the University of Tel Aviv, will share her views on opening up regulatory science.
  • the ONE Life sessions will focus on the questions on how to ensure safe, healthy and sustainable food, where Francesco Branca (Director of the Department of Nutrition and Food Safety of the World Health Organization (WHO)) will share his views on how to define healthy diets within sustainability boundaries as part of a session on sustainability and food security. Matias Zurbrigen (Head of the Institute of Synthetic Biology of the University of Dusseldorf) will consider safety aspects relating to new food production approaches such as synthetic biology as part of a session on innovative foods. Meanwhile, Ilaria Capua from the University of Florida, will focus on the post-pandemic environment and the concept of Circular Health as part of a discussion on improving our understanding of infectious diseases. How to ensure safety assessments keep pace with the emergence of new diseases will also be discussed. Luisa Peixe, professor at the University of Porto and member of EFSA’s Panel on Biological Hazards, will discuss the growing challenge of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) focussing on the link to food-producing environments.
  • the ONE Planet sessions will focus on the environmental dimension of food safety and sustainability, where Serenella Sala from the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission is among the experts who will share their views on how to develop a framework for sustainability assessments to measure progress made towards environmental goals. Annette Aldrich from the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), an expert in ecotoxicology and member of EFSA’s Panel on Plant Protection Products and their Residues, will explain why a paradigm shift is needed in the environmental risk assessment of pesticides. Helen Elizabeth Roy from the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology will feature in discussions on plant protection in the face of globalisation, particularly how global trade and climate change will affect plant pests, invasive species and diseases. Meanwhile, Linda Keeling, professor of Animal Welfare at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), will speak about the links between animal welfare and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a session dedicated to improving animal welfare and reducing environmental impacts in relation to animal-sourced food.
  • the MANY WAYS sessions will cover topics ranging from Artificial Intelligence (AI) to new approach methodologies (NAMs), where Raluca Crisan, founder and CTO of the testing platform ETIQ AI, will speak in the session related to integrating AI technology and big data in food safety. Chris Gennings, professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, will discuss how the risk assessment of combined exposure to multiple chemicals can be developed. The session on new approach methodologies (NAMs) moderated by Maurice Whelan, head of the EU Reference Laboratory for alternatives to animal testing at the Joint Research Centre (JRC), will explore opportunities for moving beyond animal testing to in vitro and in silico approaches. The session on Endocrine Disruptors (EDs) will feature Andreas Kortenkamp, professor at Brunel University, who will deliver a talk on the science behind the identification of endocrine disruptors for humans and non-target organisms. The session will also look at benefits of shifting to a more integrated assessment for chemicals as a whole. Sangeeta Khare from the National Center for Toxicological Research of the US Food and Drug Administration will address risk assessment criteria for gastrointestinal toxicity induced by xenobiotics as part of a session on the microbiome. The session will examine the evidence base connecting the microbiome, chemicals and human health.
  • the closing plenary to wrap up the four-day programme will reflect on the outcomes of the thematic (break-out) sessions. The discussion will also address how the One Health principles could help advance food safety assessments, and how more integrated, cross-sectoral and collaborative health assessments could inform policies shaping the transition towards more sustainable food systems. Sandra Gallina, the European Commission’s Director-General for Health and Food Safety, will outline the EU’s policy vision for the transition towards more sustainable and resilient food systems. Bernhard Url, EFSA’s Executive Director, will bring the conference to a close with some concluding remarks.

But let’s take a step back to the session “ONE society” thematic track I emphasized before and Turning open science into practice: causality as a showcase thematic session, in which I am involved as one of four panelists, invited to share my experience on the data quality, open science and open data questions in both academia and industry with the reference to the European Open Science Cloud I represent (Task Force “FAIR metrics and data quality”) and my previous experience working as IT-expert at the Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Centre, BBMRI-ERIC Latvian National Node. This session is devoted to the open science movement resulted in the demand for transparent and accessible-to-all scientific processes. Open science promotes and supports research collaboration and co-creation, including public participation in the scientific process via crowdsourcing data, methods, computational capacity and scientific knowledge. The adoption of a more participatory approach offers new opportunities to regulatory science organizations. It helps them extend the pool of data, expertise and knowledge from which to draw, thus accelerating their preparedness to address complex questions. It can also help in enhancing the public understanding of science, and in finally reducing citizens’ scepticism. An open science approach also poses challenges, including the need to monitor the accuracy and reliability of open data as well as their possible misuse. The session will offer an opportunity for sharing experiences on obstacles, benefits and the feasibility of adopting open science approaches in the context of regulatory science. The showcase example will focus on causality, i.e. the relationship between a cause and an effect. With larger availability of open access data, including those gathered using high-throughput techniques, unprecedented options for deeper insights into causality have emerged. Using causality as an illustrative example, the session intends to advance the discussion on how the principles of open science can be routinely implemented in the scientific activities performed by the European institutions. The guiding questions are: Can institutions benefit from open data and the open science movement, and if so, how? can participatory science accelerate finding solutions to quantitatively integrate heterogeneous sources to address causality? In other words, Whether and how open data currently available can be used to address the assessment of causal association between an agent and an effect in the regulatory domain? What are possible benefits and challenges from their use? How to guarantee that data and knowledge generated by an open science approach are accurate and reliable enough for use by regulatory science organisations? Which concrete actions need to be put in place to implement open science principles in the context of regulatory science? How to revise the legal framework to address new challenges related to personal data protection and intellectual property right? Although I am sure we will define many more questions to be asked and answered – hopefully answered 🙂

To sum up, this thematic session intends to advance the discussion on how the principles of open science can be routinely implemented in the scientific activities performed by the European Agencies/Institutions. Causality will be discussed as a case study topic, which, in fact, is among the most challenging questions which EU institutions are required to answer. 

All in all, it seems that the session should be incredibly interesting with many perspectives covered by its participants, with the coordinator of this session – Laura Martino, session contributors – Federica Barrucci, Claudia Cascio, Laura Ciccolallo, Marios Georgiadis, Giovanni Iacono, Yannick Spill both representing European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and panelists – me – Anastasija Nikiforova representing both the EOSC European Open Science Cloud Task Force ‘FAIR metrics and data quality’ and University of Tartu, Institute of Computer Science, Leonie Dendler from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), Sven Schade representing Joint Research Centre (JRC), Foteini Zampati.


Read more about the event here.

Looking forward this event, fruitful discussions, great talks and decisions on how to make this world better!!!
 

Research and Innovation Forum 2022: panel organizer, speaker, PC member, moderator and Best panel moderator award

As I wrote earlier, this year I was invited to organize my own panel session within the Research and Innovation Forum (Rii Forum). This invitation was a follow-up on several articles that I have recently published (article#1, article#2, article#3) and a Chapter to be published in “Big data & decision-making: how big data is relevant across fields and domains” (Emerald Studies in Politics and Technology) I was developing at that time. I was glad to accept this invitation, but I did not even think about how many roles I will act in Rii Forum and how many emotions I will experience. So, how was it?

First, what was my panel about? It was dedicated to data security entitled “Security of data storage facilities: is your database sufficiently protected?” being a part of the track called “ICT, safety, and security in the digital age: bringing the human factor back into the analysis“.

My own talk was titled “Data security as a top priority in the digital world: preserve data value by being proactive and thinking security first“, which makes it to be a part of the panel described above. In this talk I elaborated on the main idea of the panel, referring to an a study I recently conducted. In short, today, in the age of information and Industry 4.0, billions of data sources, including but not limited to interconnected devices (sensors, monitoring devices) forming Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) and the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem, continuously generate, collect, process, and exchange data. With the rapid increase in the number of devices and information systems in use, the amount of data is increasing. Moreover, due to the digitization and variety of data being continuously produced and processed with a reference to Big Data, their value, is also growing. As a result, the risk of security breaches and data leaks. The value of data, however, is dependent on several factors, where data quality and data security that can affect the data quality if the data are accessed and corrupted, are the most vital. Data serve as the basis for decision-making, input for models, forecasts, simulations etc., which can be of high strategical and commercial / business value. This has become even more relevant in terms of COVID-19 pandemic, when in addition to affecting the health, lives, and lifestyle of billions of citizens globally, making it even more digitized, it has had a significant impact on business. This is especially the case because of challenges companies have faced in maintaining business continuity in this so-called “new normal”. However, in addition to those cybersecurity threats that are caused by changes directly related to the pandemic and its consequences, many previously known threats have become even more desirable targets for intruders, hackers. Every year millions of personal records become available online. Moreover, the popularity of IoTSE decreased a level of complexity of searching for connected devices on the internet and easy access even for novices due to the widespread popularity of step-by-step guides on how to use IoT search engine to find and gain access if insufficiently protected to webcams, routers, databases and other artifacts. A recent research demonstrated that weak data and database protection in particular is one of the key security threats. Various measures can be taken to address the issue. The aim of the study to which this presentation refers is to examine whether “traditional” vulnerability registries provide a sufficiently comprehensive view of DBMS security, or whether they should be intensively and dynamically inspected by DBMS holders by referring to Internet of Things Search Engines moving towards a sustainable and resilient digitized environment. The study brings attention to this problem and make you think about data security before looking for and introducing more advanced security and protection mechanisms, which, in the absence of the above, may bring no value.

Other presentations delivered during this session were “Information Security Risk Awareness Survey of non-governmental Organization in Saudi Arabia”, “Fake news and threats to IoT – the crucial aspects of cyberspace in the times of cyber war” and “Minecraft as a Tool to Enhance Engagement in Higher Education” – both were incredibly interesting, and all three talks were delivered by females, where only the moderator of the session was a male researcher, which he found to be very specific, given the topic and ICT orientation – not a very typical case 🙂 But, nevertheless, we managed to have a great session and a very lively and fruitful discussion, mostly around GDPR-related questions, which seems to be one of the hottest areas of discussion for people representing different ICT “subbranches”. The main question that we discussed was – is the GDPR more a supportive tool and a “great thing” or rather a “headache” that sometimes even interferes with development.

In addition, shortly before the start of the event, I was asked to become a moderator of the panel “Business in the era of pervasive digitalization“. Although, as you may know, this is not exactly in line with my area of expertise, it is in line with what I am interested in. This is not surprising, since both management, business, the economics are very closely connected and dependent on ICT. Moreover, they affect ICT, thereby pointing out the critical areas that we as IT-people need to refer to. All in all, we had a great session with excellent talks and lively discussion at the end of the session, where we discussed different session-related topics, shared our experience, thoughts etc. Although it was a brilliant experience, there is one thing that made it even better… A day later, a ceremony was held where the best contributions of the forum were announced and I was named the best panel moderator as a recognition of “the academic merit, quality of moderation, scheduling, and discussion held during the panel”!!!

These were wonderful three days of the forum with very positive emotions and so many roles – panel organizer, speaker / presenter, program committee member and panel moderator with the cherry on the cake and such a great end of the event. Thank you Research and Innovation Forum!!! Even being at home and participating online, you managed to give us an absolute amazing experience and even the feeling that we were all together in Athens!