Association for European Life Science Universities
Artificial Intelligence & the One Health Triad Challenges for Life Science Universities
was held on 19 and 20 October 2023
at JUNIA grande école d’ingénieurs, Lille, France
The goal of the ICA’s Rectors and Deans Forums
This annual ICA Forum, for Rectors, Presidents, Deans and senior academic and management staff of life science universities in Europe, aims to provide these university decision makers from ICA’s member universities with the opportunity to meet, to discuss current issues in the bioeconomy and life sciences, and to exchange views on these issues with relevant stakeholders in industry, government and NGOs.
A Forum Focus
The Forum will address two separate topics, Artificial intelligence (AI) and the One Health Triad.
The face to face Rectors and Deans Forum programme on the 19 and 20 October will have two half day sessions focusing on the strategic management challenges of AI and the One Health Triad for life science universities. In the previous week there will be three Webinars focusing on the science relating to the One Health Triad. The three Webinars will set the context for the discussion of the strategic management challenges of the One Health Triad.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a leading technology of the current age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0 or 4IR), with the capability of incorporating human behaviour, and intelligence and decision making into machines or systems. Life Science universities need to have informed conceptual understandings of the AI technologies, such as machine learning, deep learning, neural networks, and algorithms, for them to make decisions on the implications of AI in education, and research and innovation. There is also the need to consider the social and ethical implications of the pervasive exploitation of AI.
In research and innovation AI is already exploited to produce research outcomes and is contributing to practical applications in many life science areas. In agriculture and food AI has the potential to further contribute to developments in precision farming, improved decision making, animal health, controlled environments (e.g. greenhouses), environmental monitoring and modelling, for example for reducing food waste, and in understanding and catering for consumer needs.
Perhaps the most pressing challenge for universities is the incorporation of new AI technologies is in the area of teaching and learning. The current major concern comes with the opportunity for students to submit AI-generated work for assessment that is not their own work, through applications such as ChatGPT. Thereby the students may loose out on learning opportunities that are provided through such assignments. However, new AI tools such as ChatGPT have the potential to provide new learning opportunities for students which we have seen in past with the development of the internet search browsers. The challenge is to explore and adopt such opportunities to enhance the learning environment.
The One Health Triad
Commissioner Kyriakides, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, in May 2022 set the challenge to “put the One Health approach at the core of our action, recognising the intrinsic connection between the health of people, animals, plants and their shared environment”.
The challenge is to recognise that health not only requires a focus on disease issues in the One Health Triad but also to consider healthy nutrition and actions to ensure the sustainable environment. As the One Health Triad indicates it is not only necessary to consider the silos of healthy people, animals and the environment, but crucially it is necessary to consider the feedbacks which connect the three elements. The up front example is antimicrobial resistance which can limit the effectiveness of antibiotics in people because of their use in animals. Essentially One Health addresses a bio-system – a system of living organisms that interact with their environment. To operationalise the One Health system requires a greater focus on multi-sectorial and transdisciplinary actions. The term "Planetary Health" is also used in this connection addressing the impacts of human disruptions to Earth’s natural systems on human health and all life on Earth.
The ICA Rectors and Deans Forum will address the One Health challenge for life science universities addressing transdisciplinary co-operation within the university and beyond for research and policy development. Secondly to consider the development of the mindset of our graduates for a one health world through innovation in the degree programmes offered.
B Expected Outcomes
The delegates will take back to their universities their reflections on:
- the extent of the current experience of AI in education and research in the university context
- the opportunities and threats of the use of AI in education
- how life science universities are addressing the issue of One Health (in research, education and societal engagement)
- the opportunities to apply for grant applications on the One Health topic
C Target Audience
The forum is primarily aimed at Rectors, Presidents, Deans, and senior academic and management staff in life science universities relating to the sustainable circular bioeconomy. In addition, academic/faculty staff and degree programme coordinators are encouraged to participate.
D Forum Format
This year there is a new format for the Forum. The face-to-face Rectors and Deans Forum programme on the 19 and 20 October will have two half day sessions focusing on the strategic management challenges of AI and the One Health Triad for life science universities. In the previous week there will be three Webinars focusing on the science relating to the One Health Triad. The three Webinars will set the scope for the discussion of the One Health Triad strategic management challenge for life science universities.
Each Session of the Webinars and the face-to-face Forum theme will be addressed by keynote speakers. In the Forum the keynote presentations will be followed by small round table breakout groups to discuss the issues raised, with a concluding report from the breakout groups of the issues raised in a plenary session.
E Forum Organising Committee
Jos Van Orshoven KU Leuven (BE), Alex Evans, University College Dublin (IE), Daniela Quaglino, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (IT), and Rasa Pakeltiene & Simon Heath, ICA Secretariat.