Excellence in Science for Society: Harnessing Innovative Science, Medicine, Engineering and Ingenuity to Improve People’s Lives

Partner Event hosted by Rolex SA; Randy W. Schekman

Tuesday, 27 June 2023
07:00 - 08:30 CEST



  • Nobel Laureate Randy W. Schekman, Howard Hughes Institute Investigator and Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California, Berkeley

Randy W. Schekman won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2013, which he shared with James E. Rothman and Thomas C. Südhof, for their research on the composition and function of cell vesicles—small, balloon-like structures that can transport materials within or between cells. Vesicle dysfunction is implicated in a number of neurological and immunological diseases, as well as diabetes. Dr Schekman served as Editor-in-Chief of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and is an advocate for the open-access movement in scientific publishing.

  • Grégoire Courtine, French Neuroscientist and Inventor

Grégoire Courtine is Professor of Neuroscience and Neurotechnology in the Center for Neuroprosthetics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) and Director of the Defitech Center for Interventional Neurotherapies (.NeuroRestore) at University Hospital Lausanne.

  • Jocelyne Bloch, Swiss Neuroscientist and Neurosurgeon

Jocelyne Bloch is a neurosurgeon at the University hospital of Lausanne (CHUV-UNIL) and at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Together with Grégoire Courtine at .NeuroRestore, she is evaluating the therapeutic potential of spinal cord stimulation technology to improve motor and autonomic functions in people with spinal cord injury, neurodegenerative disorders, and stroke.

Moderator: Faith McLellan, Scientific Writer and Editor, World Health Organization

  • Summary

Excellence is science is not just a worthy goal; it is also critical to innovation that can make an enormous difference in the daily lives of people around the world. These kinds of innovations depend on advances in medicine, engineering, the creative imagination, ideas, and inventions of researchers, and perhaps a measure of serendipity. The Rolex Partner Breakfast will provide an opportunity to explore the convergence of all of these.

Neuroscientist Grégoire Courtine experienced such a moment of serendipity when he met a fellow rockclimber who had lost the use of his legs after an accident. This chance encounter changed the direction of his career, as he then devoted himself to pioneering novel solutions to improve the lives of people with spinal injuries.

Along with his colleague, neurosurgeon Jocelyne Bloch, Courtine developed an implantable “bridge” to help paralysed people walk. The system, which is supported by wireless technology, reconnects the patient’s brain with the lower spinal cord. Targeted electrical stimulation can then generate leg movements that coincide with motor intention signals from the brain. The neuroprosthetic bridge can restore voluntary control over the leg muscles, which allows for intensive gait rehabilitation. Eventually, the bridge could allow neurons in the spinal cord to regenerate, potentially allowing paralysed people to regain their mobility. Courtine was named a Laureate of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise in 2019 for his pioneering work.

During the Rolex Partner Breakfast, Grégoire Courtine and his colleague Jocelyne Bloch and Nobel Laureate Randy W. Schekman will discuss how science, medicine, engineering, ingenuity, and even chance can converge in the development of solutions to real-life problems, in life-changing ways.

Rolex and Science

From its earliest days, Rolex has been at the forefront of science and innovation. The company pioneered the development of the wristwatch, including landmark innovations such as the first waterproof wristwatch, the Oyster, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism.

Its watches have accompanied explorers and achievers around the world, from the top of the highest mountains to the deepest reaches of the ocean. Alongside watchmaking, Rolex is also actively involved in supporting the arts, sport and exploration, as well as those who are devising solutions to preserve the planet.

Historically, Rolex has been linked to cutting-edge scientific institutions such as CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, and, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), one of the world’s top research institutes. Since the mid-1970s, Laureates of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise have helped advance our knowledge of the world, often in the realm of science.

Rolex’s support of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings since 2015 is part of this legacy, as the exchange between Nobel Laureates and young scientists inspires new advances that will benefit all mankind.

Rolex is proud to host this Partner Breakfast to further the Lindau Meetings’ mission: demonstrate the sharing of knowledge between scientists of different generations, cultures and disciplines.

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