Editorial: Why we need scientific expertise now more than ever

March 23rd 2020

‘The coronavirus is rapidly changing our lives and societies. All governments have to take well-informed and appropriate decisions for the people of Europe every day. That is why scientific expertise and good advice are now more valuable than ever. I am very grateful to all the high-profile experts on the panel for putting their knowledge at the service of the community.’

With these words, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen reminds us of the crucial importance of scientific expertise during the type of crisis we are currently facing.

Like their colleagues throughout the world, our researchers are racing against time to curb the epidemic and its consequences. Responding to a call from both the National Reference Centre on the Coronavirus and the Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products, ULB’s researchers in molecular biology at the Health Cluster and in Charleroi sprung into action and set up a COVID-19 diagnostic platform in order to increase the country’s inadequate testing capacity. In other ULB laboratories, our researchers are developing synthesis protocols for the reagents required for diagnostic kits, which are currently out of stock. In Brussels (Usquare) and Charleroi, our fablabs are producing face masks, plexiglass visors and other pieces of equipment for hospitals.

In other research centres, across all disciplines, our researchers and healthcare professionals are monitoring, evaluating and examining the spread of the virus and its effects on health, but also how the lockdown period is affecting our economy, our society and our emotions. They are sharing their scientific expertise with the media, thus helping us all understand the situation and act rationally in this unprecedented situation full of unknowns and unease.

‘On behalf of all of us, I would like to thank all our colleagues for their dedication, each in their area of expertise. The challenge we are facing is indisputable proof of the societal impact of high-quality fundamental research, in all fields of knowledge.’

Epidemics reveal the shortcomings of a society’, said our colleague epidemiologist Marius Gilbert during a discussion panel on RTBF a few days ago.

Once the crisis has passed, we must make assessments, analyses and most likely adjustments in our lives and in our society. In order to achieve this, scientific expertise will also be crucial.

Oberdan Leo

ULB Vice-Rector for research and technology transfer​​​


Source: Horizon Recherche ULB