A throng of clamorous ideas crowd my mind as I try to put pen to paper. Like a shepherd, I will try to herd them together before setting off through our region, the fastest growing life science cluster in the world and to reflect truly the breadth of life science activities which exist today and will carry us into the future, a future we would like to build with you. The trail begins where I left it last year: it was rocky, a troubled period of world financial crisis. In order to stay on track, look inwards and confirm the direction in which we should head, we began 2010 with a large conference, BioSquare, which was attended by industrial and academic leaders including the CEOs of J&J, Sanofi-Aventis, Merck Serono. Steven Burrill was there and, paraphrasing Charles Darwin, who taught us that it is not the strongest of the species that survives, but the one most responsive to change, Burrill concluded that only companies that are undergoing rapid change as they seek to adapt to a more hostile environment will survive.I felt proud that our region did not wait for this last crisis to reinvent itself. It has rooted itself deeply in the world of the life sciences by relying on its traditional strengths, which include research excellence, industrial dynamism and entrepreneurial creativity. Moreover, dynamism and creativity are not goals per se, but rather the starting point which has led us to wander new paths and try to respond to the main challenges to which humanity is now confronted. Our life science community is challenged directly to contribute to the sustainable evolution of our planet, food, energy and health, by responding to questions of demography, costs and access to medicine. Our laboratories are working to meet these challenges, our start-ups have defined their mission according to them, our industries are finding solutions to them: 25 000 people contribute with passion to the single ambition of being neither passive, nor reactive, but rather a motor of those revolutions.
You might be surprised that we are a motor in these different areas. This is due to the resolutely transdisciplinary approach of our research and the diversity of the actors in areas as medicine, biology, micro- and nanotechnologies, chemistry, and information technology. This diversity enables us to explore the interfaces between the different disciplines. It was these areas of convergence that we explored in previous magazines. In this issue we have focused on the contribution of our region to personalised medicine, an emerging field benefitting from the competencies that have existed here for many years in the areas of genomics, clinical sciences, computer sciences and engineering, and which rests on a resolutely interdisciplinary approach allowing the fruition of individual contributions.In this issue, reputed laboratories, companies and promising start-ups share their vision, their ambitions… far from the beaten track. Enjoy being able to meander through the pages and read all about the competencies and opportunities for collaboration which exist. We are here to provide more information, to help you with your plans and to set up the first contacts… so that we head in the same direction and build the future together. Enjoy it to the full!Dr Benoît DubuisPresident of the BioAlps Association