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Jean-François (Jef) Focant

Full Professor, Chemistry Department, Faculty of Sciences, University of Liège, Belgium

A problem interdisciplinarians should tackle? We know that most cancer survival rates increase with early diagnosis, and such early-stage cancer screening can only be attained in an interdisciplinary fashion. Medical scientists must develop their knowledge of cancer development stages and the expected biological signals of cancer proliferation; analytical chemists must master sensitive and selective detection methods of relevant pathophysiological information for screening; and data scientists need more complex data sets, especially with the implementation of AI. Although this sounds simple on paper, setting up a collaborative venture of this nature is far from easy.

The secret to a successful interdisciplinary collaboration? Friendship and honesty.

Fostering interdisciplinary working? Participants that are open minded and less self-centered.

Emerging trends? Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Book for scientists? “L’Encyclopédie du Savoir Relatif et Absolu” (Encyclopedia of Relative and Absolute Knowledge) by Bernard Werber.

Nominator comment: Jef focuses on connecting separation science, particularly comprehensive gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCxGC-MS), with medical and industrial partners. His overall goal is to address real-world problems and contribute to society with overwhelmingly positive results.

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