Round Table Discussion – “Securing Future Wellbeing Through Science”

The scientist couple who developed the first vaccine against the coronavirus, Dr Uğur Şahin and Dr Özlem Türeci, conversed about key topics of concern to Humanity’s future with leading personalities from across Europe and the large audience that filled the venue

You may watch the Theophano Round Table (Thursday 14th October 2021 | 16:00 CET, 17:00 EET) HERE


The Theophano Round Table Discussion was completed with great success on Thursday, 14th October 2021 at the Thessaloniki Music Hall, in the context of the presentation of the annual and Pan-European Empress Theophano Prize. This new institution, an international discussion panel on topics of concern to humanity in the decades to come and which are linked to and inspired by each year’s prize, this year was entitled “Securing Future Wellbeing Through Science”, and focused on the thematic units of science for the Common Good; science and innovation in Europe; science and competitiveness; science and education; science and wellbeing.

The two award recipients, the scientist couple who developed the first vaccine against the novel coronavirus, Dr Uğur Şahin and Dr Özlem Türeci, were the event’s keynote speakers, while the welcome speech was delivered by the Vice President of the European Commission for Promoting the European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas.

Offering their views and conversing with the prize recipients through their own perspective, leading personalities from Europe participated in the discussion, among which were Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland and Professor of Children, Religion and Law at the University of Glasgow; Maria Luisa Poncela, Former Secretary of State for Trade and Secretary General for Science and Innovation of Spain; Georges Prevelakis, Professor Emeritus, Paris-Sorbonne University; and Chiara Saraceno, Honorary Fellow, Collegio Alberto, University of Turin. The discussion was moderated by Professor Stefan Schepers, member of the Governing Council of Theophano Foundation.

In reference to the first Empress Theophano Prize honouring the field of Education in the form of the Pan-European student exchange program, Erasmus, the Vice President of the European Commission for Promoting the European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, noted, among other things: “I think is no accident that the first two Theophano Prizes were given to education and to science. That these sectors were selected last year and this year says a lot about the prize, as well as about our society. Science is the crown of Politics in times of crisis”.

On behalf of the prize recipients, Dr Uğur Şahin, speaking about what he has kept from this process as a learning, said “it is that this crisis and the solutions showed us how important science is. Science was a marginal part of our society and now it ended up in the centre of society”. Moreover, in reference to the role played by the process of educating the audience and disseminating information to thwart vaccine hesitancy, he stressed how important it is to provide thorough information and data, both to resolving the pandemic as well as upcoming crises such as, potentially, climate change. In terms of their collaboration with Pfizer and its President and CEO, he offered it as an example of “people and organisations working together for a common goal can become extremely effective. […] The collaboration was based on trying to follow the rules of science. It is a perfect collaboration because we contributed in a different manner together to a common solution based on shared values”.

Honouring the Round Table Discussion with their presence were the Deputy Minister for Macedonia and Thrace, Stavros Kalafatis, the Mayor of Thessaloniki, Konstantinos Zervas, the Chairman and CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla, as well as the Rector of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Nikos Papaioannou.

The round table took place courtesy of


INFORMATION: Vicky Papadimitriou, Project Coordination | E: | T: +30 6937 229858

The Advisory Council


Herman Van Rompuy
President Emeritus of the European Council
Former Minister of State of Belgium (BE)


Mary McAleese
Former President of Ireland | Professor of Children, Religion and Law, University Glasgow (IRL)

Leonie Bell
Trustee Edinburgh International Festival | Director Victoria & Albert Museum Dundee (UK)

Nikiforos Diamandouros
Former European Ombudsman (GR)

Élisabeth Guigou
President, Anna Lindh Foundation | Former Secretary of State (F)

Tarja Halonen
Former President of Finland (FI)

Agnieszka Holland
Author and film director (PL)

Maria Luisa Poncela
Former Secretary of State (ES)

Michel Praet
Vice-President Museum of European History (BE)

Georges Prevelakis
Professor Emeritus, Paris-Sorbonne University (FR) 

Sir Ivan Rogers
Former UK Ambassador to the EU (UK)

Chiara Saraceno
Honorary fellow Collegio Alberto, University of Turin (IT)

Vassilios Skouris
Former President, European Court of Justice of the EU (GR)

Karl Prince zu Schwarzenberg
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs (CZ)

Rita Süssmuth
Former President of the German Parliament (DE)

Panos Tzonos
Professor Emeritus, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (GR)

Luuk Van Middelaar
Professor of EU Foundations and Institutions, University of Leiden (NL)

The Governing Council


Stavros Andreadis
Chairman, SANI/IKOS Group
Chairman, Cultural Society of Entrepreneurs of Northern Greece (GR)


Nikolaos Efthymiadis
Chairman, EFTHYMIADIS Agrotechnology Group
Honorary Chairman, Federation of Greek Industries (GR)

Evangelos Gerovassiliou
Chairman, Gerovassiliou Wines (GR)

Constantinos Gleoudis
Chairman, KAVEX
Member of the Board, Hellenic Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage (GR)

Theodoros Ikonomou
Chairman, Greek Forest Property Association
Head of a forest management and wood production firm (GR)

Nada Korac Kakabadse
Professor of Policy, Governance and Ethics, Henley Business School, University of Reading (UK)

George Mylonas
Chairman, ALUMIL Group (GR)

Sonja Puntscher-Riekmann
Professor Emeritus of Political Theory and European Politics, University of Salzburg (AT)

Stefan Schepers
Secretary General, High Level Groups on Policy Innovation (BE)

Vassos Konstantinidis
Chairman, INART (GR)