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Some of the biggest names in science and medicine are in the Swiss ski resort town of Davos this week to rub elbows with world leaders and one-percenters — and talk about the future of health care.

The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, which gets underway Tuesday, draws in health, medicine, and biopharma leaders from across the globe. Novartis CEO Vasant Narasimhan, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, Johnson & Johnson chief scientific officer Paul Stoffels,and AC Immune CEO Andrea Pfeifer will be in attendance. They’ll be joined by other top names in the field, including global health philanthropist Bill Gates, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and former CDC director Julie Gerberding.

It’s not just biopharma royalty that’ll be in attendance. It’s also actual royalty: Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, is taking part in a panel on promoting mental health across the globe.


Not in attendance: Top officials from the Trump administration. National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins — who helped plan the scientific sessions and was scheduled to attend — canceled his trip due to the government shutdown. Collins was slated to participate in a number of panels, including a talk about the need for global guidelines that govern gene editing. President Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and other U.S. leaders who were scheduled to attend the conference also canceled their trips.

This year’s meeting features panels on progress in vaccine development, financial investment in global health, and the need for breakthroughs to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Global health experts will lead a panel on what needs to happen to confront new biological threats that haven’t yet been identified, dubbed Disease X. Several groups will also unveil new initiatives to address growing mental health challenges.

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