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May 2014: EWGPWD Chair Helga Rohra speaks at OECD forum in Paris

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The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) held its annual forum in Paris on 5 and 6 May. The afternoon session on 5 May, titled “Health and Innovation” was moderated by Kenneth Cukier, Data editor for The Economist. The keynote speaker was Professor Shinya Yamanaka, Nobel Laureate in Physiology, Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, Kyoto University, Japan and other panellists included the chairperson of the European Working group of people with dementia (EWGPWD), Helga Rohra.

The keynote speech centred on finding new treatments, in particular for dementia, through the use of iPS cells (induced pluripotent stem cells). Prof. Yamanaka told the audience that “vision and hard work” as well as an international collaborative effort involving not only scientists, but also ethical experts, patents, regulation, public relations, pre-clinical trials and more, would be needed to “find our cells’ true potential”.

Helga Rohra reminded the other panellists as well as forum participants and webcast viewers that while innovation in terms of research into treatments and a possible cure for dementia is important, these are not the only important things. "Dementia is like a sponge, it takes out everything you learnt but please focus on what's left", said Ms Rohra. She implored scientists and medical professionals to “include the experts…and the experts are people who live daily (with dementia)” in the process of finding innovative therapies and possible cures.

Ms Rohra spoke of another kind of innovation, citing Alzheimer Europe’s creation of the EWGPWD two years ago. She said “this is also innovation, to include people, to listen to them”.

Watch the webcast here:



Last Updated: Thursday 02 October 2014