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Laureates of the Eset Science Award 2022

Prof. Silvia Pastoreková became an Outstanding Scientist in Slovakia

15. 10. 2022 | 1709 visits

The award for Outstanding Scientist has new laureates. Professor Silvia Pastoreková from the Biomedical Research Center SAS became the laureate of the main category Outstanding Scientist in Slovakia. Miroslav Almáši is the laureate of the category Outstanding Scientist Under the Age of 35, and professor Ľubomír Tomáška received the award in the category Outstanding Academic in Slovakia.

The ESET Foundation has announced the winners of the ESET Science Award for the fourth time. The awards are presented for scientific and pedagogical personalities for their scientific work, but also their contribution to other areas of life. This year, the laureates were decided by an international commission chaired by the Nobel Prize winner, biochemist Ada Yonath.

Professor Silvia Pastoreková from the Biomedical Research Center SAS became the laureate of the Outstanding Scientist in Slovakia category, which investigates how tumour cells adapt to adverse conditions and how they acquire aggressive properties that promote cancer progression. Miroslav Almáši from the Faculty of Science of the University of Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice became the laureate of the Outstanding Scientist Under the Age of 35. He deals with the use of porous materials in the fields of energy storage, biomedicine and environmental issues. Laureate of the category Outstanding Academic in Slovakia, Ľubomír Tomáška works at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the Comenius University in Bratislava and is dedicated to uncovering ways of communication between individual parts of the cell and identifying molecular mechanisms for maintaining the integrity of the genome.

"I am glad that there are many talented personalities among the finalists of the award. I wish everyone to be appreciated for their curiosity, because that´s what pushes the boundaries of knowledge," said the chairwoman Ada Yonath, evaluating the session of the international commission. 

The theme of this year's gala evening was the story of a woman in science. "This topic is very close to us. As a software company, we are trying to increase the share of women in the company and the entire industry. I am convinced that diversity is essential for innovation and progress in any field. People with different opinions from different backgrounds bring different perspectives to any challenge we face as humanity, including big scientific questions. Also for this reason, the role of women is irreplaceable not only in science," explains Richard Marko, CEO of ESET.

The story of women in science was artistically portrayed in the evening's program by personalities from the art world, such as Eva Matejková, Táňa Pauhofová, Tamara Kramár and Celeste Buckingham.

The gala evening was also attended by an international commission, which selected laureates of two main categories – Outstanding Scientist in Slovakia and Outstanding Scientist Under the Age of 35. In addition to Professor Ada Yonath, members of the international commission included German material scientist Anke Weidenkaff, Ukrainian material chemist Yury Gogotsi working in the USA, Dutch oncologist and researcher Rob Pieters and German particle physicist Manfred Lindner. A special guest, founder of the STARMUS world festival and famous astrophysicist Garik Israelian, alse attended the gala evening.

The laureate in the Outstanding Academic in Slovakia category was chosen by a commission made up of representatives of Slovak universities. Laureates of all three categories are selected based on demanding criteria, which include current scientific research results and publications, measurable scientometric data, but also communication and popularization of scientific knowledge, cooperation with other scientific fields, feedback from close colleagues or students, and much more.

The public also chose their favourite personality through the 2022 Public Award vote. The Slovak public was most interested in microbiologist Miroslava Kačániová, who works at the Faculty of Horticulture and Landscape Engineering of the Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra and the AgroBioTech research centre. She focuses on the research of antimicrobial activities of plant essential oils and medicinal plants in in vitro and in situ conditions against microorganisms.

Silvia Pastoreková, laureate of the Outstanding Scientist in Slovakia category, works at the Biomedical Research Center SAS. She deals with research into the mechanisms by which tumour cells adapt to the lack of oxygen and investigates the possibilities of their use in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. In cooperation with a wider team, she discovered a protein that is found on the surface of tumour cells, but healthy cells do not have it. Based on genetic information, this protein was included in the so-called family carbonic anhydrases and was named CA9. Using an antibody against CA9, which Silvia Pastoreková prepared, the team of Oxford scientists led by Adrian L. Harris and the current Nobel Prize winner Peter J. Ratcliff showed that CA9 is formed in tumour cells when there is a lack of oxygen - hypoxia.

The Slovak team's research subsequently led to the acquisition of original knowledge about the role of CA9 in the adaptation of tumour cells to hypoxia by means of changes in metabolism and the ability to form metastases. In collaboration with clinical oncologists, they showed that CA9 is found in tumours from different tissue types. The discovery of CA9 is a significant contribution to research into the mechanisms of cancer development and progression. Together with her team, Silvia Pastoreková developed unique antibodies that can recognize this protein in tumour tissue. They are used to diagnose cancer and detect more advanced tumours. Currently, they are already being developed as medicines.

You can find more information about Silvia Pastoreková HERE.

Miroslav Almáši, laureate of the Outstanding Scientist Under the Age of 35 category.

Miroslav Almáši works at the Faculty of Science of the University of Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice. He is devoted to the preparation of new porous materials. One of the possible uses of their research is the absorption of heavy metals. Similarly, they can absorb other molecules from the water, such as antibiotics and other drugs, which cannot be easily removed from the water and can have negative consequences for health.

Another important use of porous materials is the absorption of carbon dioxide from the air and its storage. The research of Miroslav Almáši and his team could be used to filter the air from the environment. Porous materials could capture CO2 molecules from it, which could then be transformed into, for example, methanol for further use in industry. Another area of ​​research deals with the storage of hydrogen as an ecological fuel for future motor vehicles. He is also investigating the so-called "drug delivery" system, i.e. administration of drugs with a long-term release, for example, as with vitamin C with the 24-hour release. The surface of porous materials can be modified so that the drug starts to be released after exposure to UV radiation, a certain temperature, pH or other stimulus in the treatment of anti-inflammatory or oncological diseases and covid-19 disease.

You can find more information about Miroslav Almáši HERE.

Ľubomír Tomáška, laureate of the Outstanding Academic in Slovakia category.

Together with Professor Jozef Nosek, Professor Ľubomír Tomáška leads the laboratory of the Departments of Genetics and Biochemistry at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the Comenius University in Bratislava, where, together with a team of scientific workers and students, they deal with the identification of mechanisms that ensure the communication of individual parts of our cells. Their main goal is to find out how the DNA molecules in the chromosomes, specifically their end sections (the so-called telomeres), are protected from damage that would have fatal consequences for the cell. They also study how mitochondria, the energy centres of cells, communicate with other parts of the cell.

According to Professor Tomáška, a good teacher should be a competent expert and didactic, should be a person with moral integrity, should have contagious optimism and joy of learning, empathy and cordiality in relation to students and colleagues. In his opinion, the quality of education depends primarily on the quality of teachers. Among the awards of his pedagogical work, Professor Tomáška includes the pleasure of good and provocative questions from students at lectures and seminars, when they initiate interesting polemics or when they have interesting unconventional ideas on how to solve some experimental problem. For him, the ultimate success of a teacher is the success of the students with whom he had the opportunity to work.

You can find more information about Ľubomír Tomáška HERE.


Spracovala: Michaela Lukovičová, Eset Science Award

Foto: Linda Kisková Bohušová/ ESET Science Award

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