BioAlps Awards 2023
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Dr. Hervé Bourlard receives the BioAlps Academia Award, and Dr. Igor Fisch and Dr Nicolas Mermod both receive the BioAlps Industry Award
Since 2006, The BioAlps Awards honour prominent figures and companies of the Swiss Health Valley. The winners were unveiled during a ceremony, at the end of the BioAlps Networking Day, the flagship event of Western Switzerland Life Sciences ecosystem. This year, more than 300 people gathered during a whole day of conference and networking at Campus Biotech (Geneva).
BioAlps Academia Award
Born in Belgium, Prof. Hervé Bourlard studied at the Faculté Polytechnique de Mons, graduating with a degree in engineering.
He began his career at Philips before moving to the USA in 1988, when he was recruited as a scientist by the University of Berkeley. He arrived in Switzerland in the 1990s, answering Pascal Couchepin’s call for someone to head a new institute working on Deep Learning.
In 1996, he founded and became Director of Idiap Research Institute, a role he held for 27 years before retiring in March 2023.
His career has been devoted to signal processing, automatic machine training and AI, or artificial intelligence.
In May 2022, he was awarded the IEEE James L. Flanagan Medal, for his pioneering work in modelling the speech signal through the use of so-called “hidden Markov” models. This work was further developed through the use of artificial intelligence, including neural networks, linear algebra and statistics.
Together with Prof. Nelson Morgan of UC Berkeley, Prof. Bourlard’s contributions represent over 400 scientific publications.
Hervé Bourlard has always emphasized multidisciplinarity, and has initiated and managed numerous national and international projects, building bridges between academia as well as for large and small industries.
BioAlps Industry Award
Dr. Igor Fisch is a passionate entrepreneur dedicated to scientific excellence. He holds a PhD in Biology from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and previously worked as an assistant professor at the University of Lausanne and the EPFL. He pursued his postdoctoral studies in the laboratory of the Nobel-prize winning Prof. Sir Gregory Winter in Cambridge, UK.
In 2001, he co-founded Selexis SA, in Geneva, as a university spin-off together with Dr. Nicolas Mermod, to change the way biologic drugs were developed. Selexis became the global leader in cell line development enabling the life science industry to rapidly develop and commercialize innovative biotherapeutics and vaccines.
Igor Fisch is the current President of Fongit, an innovation incubator in Romandie, Switzerland, where he supports startups in the life sciences industry. In 2022, he took on a new challenge by joining forces, once again with Dr. Nicolas Mermod, to found NewBiologix SA dedicated to the development of technologies for cell and gene therapy.
Nicolas Mermod is Emeritus Professor of Biotechnology of the University of Lausanne. He completed his PhD in environmental biotechnology at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), followed by post-doctoral studies at the University of California at Berkeley, USA. Nicolas then joined the University of Lausanne to become full Professor and the director of the Institute of Biotechnology.
Nicolas Mermod’s Laboratory for Molecular Biotechnology, located at EPFL, gained recognition in the field of eukaryotic gene expression control by publishing over 100 papers in peer-reviewed renowned journals. Besides his scientific publications, Nicolas authored a number of patents on epigenetic regulatory elements and gene transfer.
He is a co-founder of Selexis SA, to which he brought significant value by bridging academic discoveries to biotech innovation. In 2022, he teamed up again with Igor Fisch to co-found NewBiologix SA, with the aim of developing innovative solutions for addressing current manufacturing challenges in the field of vector production for gene therapy.
Picture: (from left to right) Prof. Antoine Geissbuhler, President of BioAlps, Dr. Hervé Bourlard, Dr. Nicolas Mermod, Dr. Igor Fisch, Mrs Magali Bischof, Secretary General of BioAlps. ©LakeProd
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