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On 2-3 May, the 16th International Conference of Baltic Intellectual Cooperation ‘Genes: From the Past to the Future’ took place at the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences in Vilnius. It is a continuation of the tradition of intellectual cooperation of the Baltic countries that was established in as early as the first half of the twentieth century.
At this conference, internationally recognised researchers from the Baltic countries and also from Germany and Finland presented their intensively developed genetic and genomic research and its applications. The first day of the event was mostly dedicated to plant genetics and genomics, medical genetics, and population genomic studies. On the second day, six speakers from Lithuania discussed the issues of the ethnogenesis of the populations of Lithuania and of the Baltic countries interconnecting the most recent data of historical, linguistic, and genomic research.
As the conference tradition goes, scientists and intellectuals are awarded medals and diplomas of the three Baltic Academies of Sciences for the development of intellectual relations between the Baltic countries. This year, they were presented to the Estonian geneticist Prof. Maris Laan for major input into cooperation in basic and clinical reproductive genetic research between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, to the Latvian geneticist Prof. Isaak Rashal for essential research in genetics and important pedagogical and organizational input into development and strengthening of basic and applied research in plant genetics in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, and to the Lithuanian geneticist Prof. Vaidutis Kučinskas for seminal results in research that has enabled essential reconsideration of the histories of the origin of the Baltic populations and identification of their genome diversity and similarities, performed jointly with Latvian and Estonian scientists.
Presidents of the conference organising academies of sciences of the Baltic countries – Tarmo Soomere (Estonia), Ojārs Spārītis (Latvia), and Jūras Banys (Lithuania) – resolved to encourage the relevance of the scientific content of these conferences in the future. The next intellectual cooperation conference is to be held in Tallinn in 2021, and in all likelihood it will address technical sciences.
Dr Alina Urnikytė, junior research fellow, Faculty of Medicine, Vilnius University
Dr Andrius Bernotas, head of the Organisational Department, Lithuanian Academy of Sciences