Cambridge Nanjing Forum 2021 Successfully Held
Release Time:2021-11-08Pageviews:379

“Cambridge Nanjing Forum 2021 – Summit of Brain Science and Brain-like Research” lasted for 2 days, and achieved great success in China with the unanimous affirmation of all participants. 15 cutting-edge academic reports were respectively made by 7 scholars from domestic first-class universities and 8 scholars from Cambridge University, each of which took 45 minutes, and 6 academicians of Chinese Academy of Sciences and 6 distinguished professors titled Changjiang Scholars listened to their wonderful reports. They surmounted the geographical barrier of 8,900 kilometers between Cambridge University and Nanjing, and jointly presented a cutting-edge international academic feast for nearly 100 guests from all walks of life and an audience of over 100 online in the form of synchronous sharing of live and cloud.

The summit was co-sponsored by Cambridge University and Nanjing Jiangbei New Area Administration Committee, undertaken by Cambridge University - Nanjing Centre of Technology and Innovation, and was successfully held in Jiangbei New Area, Nanjing from September 14 to September 15, 2021. Leaders from Nanjing Jiangbei New Area, and Daping Chu, Tenured Chair Professor of the University of Cambridge, and the Academic Director and CEO of the Centre, attended the event and delivered a speech. Experts from Peking University, Tsinghua University, Beihang University, Fudan University, Nanjing University, Southeast University and other domestic universities were invited to attend the symposium offline, and scholars from Cambridge University in related fields attended the symposium via the cloud.

Academicians of Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering attending the summit include You Zheng, academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering, and  former Vice President of Tsinghua University and current President of Huazhong University of Science and Technology; Dai Qionghai, academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering and Dean of School of Information Science and Technology, Tsinghua University; Cheng Heping, academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences and Professor of College of Future Technology, Peking University; Lu Lin, academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences and Director of Peking University Sixth Hospital; Fang Jiancheng, academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences and Executive Vice President of Beihang University; and Jiang Lei, academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences and Dean of School of Chemistry and Environment, Beihang University.

Aim at frontier scientific fields and promote development and international cooperation of brain science

Brain science research is one of the frontier scientific research fields in the 21st century. Scientific research aims at understanding nature and man, and brain science is known as the “jewel in the crown” for understanding man and nature. At present, advanced countries and regions in the world, including the United States and the European Union, are actively working out brain science plans. During the 13th Five-Year Plan period, China listed brain science and brain-like research as one of “Major Projects of Science and Technology Innovation by 2030” and launched the “China Brain Plan”. In the 14th Five-Year Plan, it is clearly pointed out that we should aim at frontier fields such as brain science and artificial intelligence, and implement a number of forward-looking and strategic national major science and technology projects. 

Facing the common “ultimate territory” of mankind, we should particularly promote the international and domestic exchange of scientific research and innovation, integrate into the global innovation network and integrate international innovation resources in this open and shared international pattern.

Professor Daping Chu expressed his gratitude to the guests. He said that human cognition research has made great progress in recent years. In the next five to ten years, brain science and brain-inspired science will have fundamental breakthroughs in the field of basic research. As an interdisciplinary subject, it has broad application prospects. Brain science and brain-inspired research have become an important international frontier scientific field, which requires the cooperation of top resources at home and abroad to jointly face and solve major challenges and difficult problems in this field. "The Centre is positioned as a platform for technological innovation, which carries the strategic expectations by both the University of Cambridge and Nanjing." He expressed his hope that by taking the opportunity of this symposium, the Centre would play its role as a hub to promote the cooperation and exchange between China and Cambridge University in the field of brain science research and achieve the breakthrough of related research issues, and push itself to continue doing well in international cooperation, industrial development and original innovation.

It is worth mentioning that the venue for this symposium is the new site of the Centre that just opened in July this year. It has a total of more than 27,000 square meters. The overall architectural appearance and interior design are integrated with the elements of Cambridge University, which represents the good wishes of Nanjing and Cambridge University. In this regard, Daping Chu particularly emphasized that “the launch of the new site has enabled the Centre to have a good hardware environment for international cooperation, industrial development, and innovative research in the field of brain science. He hopes to take the symposium as an opportunity to put the Centre as a platform for cooperation in this building, gathering more top resources at home and abroad to innovate and jointly research cutting-edge issues, implement advanced technologies, and promote the innovative development of brain science and brain-inspired research in China and breakthroughs in related research issues."

In fact, since the official opening in 2019, Cambridge University - Nanjing Centre of Technology and Innovation regularly holds a Cambridge - Nanjing forum to be attended by high-level leaders from Cambridge University and Nanjing every September. The focus of Forum 2019 was put on the construction of Cambridge - Nanjing partnership and that of Forum 2020 on the deepening of Cambridge - Nanjing cooperation; this year’s Cambridge - Nanjing Forum focused on a more operable level, i.e., brain science and brain-like research, and invited relevant experts from Cambridge University and domestic universities in specific frontier fields for academic discussion on this research direction, to build an international coordinative platform and innovation centre of brain science and brain-like research.

Experts’wonderful reports interpret brain science research hotspots from multiple perspectives

This summit involves “recognizing, protecting and creating the brain”, and the addressers and participating scholars come from multi-disciplinary backgrounds such as computer and artificial intelligence, automation and precision instruments, information optics, biological science and medical engineering, clinical neuroscience, biochemistry, etc. It fully embodies the characteristics of interdisciplinary integration of brain science and brain-like research.

With respect to the neural principle of brain cognition and the corresponding protection and treatment measures, Richard Prager, Dean of Engineering Department, Cambridge University and Academician of Royal Academy of Engineering, Zhu Jingning, Associate Dean of School of Life Sciences and Deputy Director of Brain Science Research Institute, Nanjing University, Fabian Graben Hester and Julia Krupich, Lecturers of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience Department, Cambridge University, interpreted from different perspectives, namely “Kanerva Model Applicable to Sparse Distributed Memory and Cerebellar Structure”, “Neural Circuit Basis of Central Motor Control and Somatic-non-somatic Response Integration”, “Decision and Social Cognitive Mechanism of Primates Based on Single Neuron Computing”, and “Real-time Formation of Hippocampal Cognitive Map”, etc.

Professor Prager creatively compared the connectivity of Kanerva sparse distributed memory model with the connectivity of cerebellum structure in the opening report. Professor Zhu Jingning’s report focused on the functional neural circuit between hypothalamus and central motor system and its role in somatic motor control and somatic-non-somatic response integration, as well as the development and intervention of sports diseases and emotional disorders. Graben Hester put the perspective into primates, and in his view, studying the neuronal activity of monkeys who engage in social interaction is helpful to establish a social cognitive neural network model inspired by the brain.

After suffering from a major disaster or ingesting addictive substances, human beings will have strong and firm pathological emotional memory, which may accompany them for life and cause serious mental and psychological diseases. Academician Lu Lin said that understanding the spiritual mechanism of emotional memory is very valuable for finding potential targets for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and treating anxiety, depression, and drug addiction. How to eliminate this addictive memory? He explained that taking CS/US fading, a non-pharmacological method, in the re-consolidation stage can rewrite addictive memory to reduce the risk of long-term recurrence.

Understanding the neural principle of brain depends on the development of corresponding brain imaging tools. In particular, in vitro models cannot fully simulate the biological process in vivo, so in vivo imaging is particularly critical for revealing the biological essence.

Chen Liangyi, Professor of Institute of Molecular Medicine, Peking University, made an academic report on “Sparse Deconvolution Algorithm for Improving the Resolution of Living Cell Super-resolution Fluorescence Microscope”. It is reported that this is the first practical calculation algorithm to extend the resolution of fluorescence microscope beyond the optics; the research group led by Academician Dai Qionghai of Tsinghua University works on the technology of “cross-scale mesoscopic living imaging”. Wu Jiamin, a member of the research group and Assistant Professor of Institute of Brain and Cognitive Science, Tsinghua University, said that the computational imaging method could break through the limitations of traditional microscopic imaging and realize a series of advanced imaging instruments for multi-scale, high-speed and high-throughput fluorescence microscopic imaging in vivo, which are widely used in the fields of brain science, immunology and oncology.

Franklin Abio, Professor of Clinical Neuroscience Department, Kevin Brindo, Professor of Biochemistry Department, and Steffen Gotz, Lecturer of Engineering Department, Cambridge University, respectively discussed the latest progress of “PET molecular imaging detector” and “tumor metabolic imaging”, and “more selective nerve stimulation and modulation tools”.

Creating brain, simulating brain, and developing computing technologies and devices of brain-like artificial intelligence and medical bionic technology are other important directions of developing brain science at present.

How will automatic driving technology and intelligent medical treatment combined with brain-like artificial intelligence affect our lives? Professor Feng Jianfeng, Director of Brain-like Intelligence Science and Technology Research Institute, Fudan University and Chief Scientist of Shanghai Center for Mathematical Sciences, made a series of imaginations. Focusing on the fabrication of brain chip, Gu Zhongze, Dean of School of Biological Sciences and Medical Engineering, Southeast University, said that human organ chip is a new technology to simulate human organ function by culturing cells in vitro chip. With the advantage of organ chip, researchers can build a “digital life model” system.

Academician Jiang Lei of the Chinese Academy of Sciences shared that quantum confinement superfluids will promote understanding of the mechanism of bio-efficient energy conversion, and proposed that the quantum states of neural signal transmission in quantum neuroscience and brain science and the macroscopic quantum states of ion channel are carriers of biological information transmission. His report reveals that the essence of biochemical reaction is the mid-infrared chemical reaction under the confinement superfluid state in the enzyme channel, which opens up a new way for future development of bionic synthesis in the fields of chemistry and chemical engineering.

Chair Professor George Maliares and Senior Researcher Christopher Prickett of Engineering Department, Cambridge University, shared their reports on “New Materials and Preparation of Bioelectronic Drugs” and “Power Devices for Nervous System”, with the view to developing bionic systems to improve medical care and advance biological science.

Cambridge University - Nanjing Centre of Technology and Innovation, located in Jiangbei New Area, Nanjing (a national-level new area), is the first research institution set up by Cambridge University outside the UK, and it is also the only overseas science and technology innovation centre of Cambridge University. As a supporting platform of Cambridge University for cooperation in China, it undertakes international high-end original scientific research projects, innovative research and development, achievement transformation, international academic exchange and personnel training, etc. It is committed to integrating Cambridge University’s research system and expert team, cooperating deeply with Chinese famous universities, research institutes and industrial partners, aiming at the world’s science and technology frontier, promoting the two-way connection between the world’s top universities and international innovation resources and local needs, forming the agglomeration innovation of top resources, and comprehensively improving the regional science and technology innovation level and transformation efficiency.