Igor Lacík has become an oustanding scientist in Slovakia
The international jury headed by Nobel laureate Michel Mayor selected this year's winners of the ESET Science Award based on a comprehensive evaluation process. The laureate in the category Outstanding Scientist in Slovakia is Igor Lacík, the laureate in the category Outstanding Scientist in Slovakia Under the Age of 35 is Matej Baláž, and the laureate in the category Outstanding Academic in Slovakia is Daniela Ostatníková. The public award went to Daniela Ježová.
On Thursday evening, October 12, the ESET Science Award was presented for the fifth time to outstanding scientific and pedagogical personalities of Slovakia. The ESET Science Award honours female and male scientists in Slovakia and highlights their efforts and scientific activity, which also extends to other areas of life. The laureate of the Outstanding Scientist in Slovakia category is Igor Lacík, who works at the Polymer Institute SAS, where he and his team manage to find the use of polymeric materials in the treatment of diabetes. The laureate in the category Outstanding Scientist in Slovakia Under the Age of 35 is Matej Baláž, who works at the Institute of Geotechnics SAS (ÚGT SAV) in Košice and in his field focuses on chemistry without solvents, the so-called mechanochemistry. Daniela Ostatníková, head of the Institute of Physiology and vice-dean for international relations of the Faculty of Medicine of Comenius University Bratislava, who in her research focuses on the causes of autism, became the laureate of the Outstanding Academic category.
The international jury selected the laureates from among the finalists in the Outstanding Scientist in Slovakia and Outstanding Scientist in Slovakia Under the Age of 35 categories. This year, the international jury was presided by astrophysicist and Nobel Prize winner Michel Mayor. Other members of the international jury were Anne Leriche, researcher and professor, Maria Grazia Valsecchi, oncologist working in Italy, Dominique Bonvin, professor working in Switzerland and Jan Konvalinka, Czech biochemist.
The Chairman of the international jury, Michel Mayor, who presented the award in the main category at the ceremony, praised the potential of science in Slovakia after the final session of the jury: "Congratulations to all the laureates of the ESET Science Award, as well as all the finalists, who have shown us that Slovakia is home to great scientific talents. Today, we celebrate not only their work, but also the hope and possibilities that science brings to all of us. They remind us that science is a journey without end and its potential knows no borders. Their passion, hard work and dedication are an inspiration to us all.”
The laureate in the Outstanding Academic category was chosen by a jury 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, involvement in international scientific projects, but also communication and popularization of scientific knowledge, cooperation with other scientific fields, feedback from close colleagues or students.
"The ESET Science Award is our way of expressing recognition to extraordinary scientific personalities. The topic “Science without borders" emphasizes the need for international cooperation, exchange of knowledge and open access to scientific discoveries regardless of geographical or interdisciplinary boundaries. Through their work, this year's laureates prove to us that scientific research is a universal language that transcends borders. Their contribution testifies to the importance of science for society and how it can fulfil the lives of all of us," explains Richard Marko, CEO of ESET.
The Slovak public also chose their favourite personality through voting in the Public Prize 2023. Professor Daniela Ježová, who works at the Institute of Experimental Endocrinology of the Biomedical Research Center SAS, as well as the Faculty of Medicine of the Comenius University, received the most votes. She focuses on researching the effects of hormones and their roles in coping with stress in stressful situations. She also investigates the role of hormones in the development and course of mental disorders. Her team was able to clarify that high concentrations of the stress hormone aldosterone affect brain functions and, ultimately, that this hormone is important in the development and progression of depressive disorder.
Igor Lacík, laureate of the Outstanding Scientist in Slovakia category
Ing. Igor Lacík, DrSc. works at the Polymer Institute SAS, where he and his team manage to keep finding new uses for polymer materials in the treatment of diabetes. By coating the transplanted islets with polymers, it is possible to regulate insulin production and, at the same time, protect them against the immune system. Adjusting a fragile system in the human body is not easy, but this type of treatment could, in the future, mean a revolutionary change in the lives of diabetic patients, where current options for sugar control fail, as well as for at-risk patients such as pregnant women and paediatric patients. In addition to helping diabetics, his team also focuses on the synthesis of water-soluble polymers. Until now, it was largely unknown to the world until Slovak scientists began to pay attention to it. For both topics, Igor Lacík's team belongs to internationally respected groups.
Matej Baláž, laureate of the Outstanding Scientist in Slovakia Under the Age of 3 5category
RNDr. Matej Baláž, PhD. works at the Institute of Geotechnics SAS in Košice. His research focuses on solvent-free chemistry, also called mechanochemistry, that uses mechanical energy in the form of grinding. Using mechanochemistry, he evaluates biomass and waste, or prepares nanomaterials that can be used, e.g. for energy conversion or in biomedicine. He started his scientific career by researching the mechanochemical evaluation of eggshell, but later focused on waste in general. In addition, he discovered the biomechanochemical synthesis of silver nanoparticles or the possibility of mechanochemically preparing copper sulfides within a few seconds. He is the first Slovak to be a member of the prestigious Young Academy of Europe.
Daniela Ostatníková, laureate of the Outstanding Academic category
Prof. MUDr. Daniela Ostatníková, PhD., is the head of the Institute of Physiology and vice-dean for international relations of the Faculty of Medicine of Comenius University Bratislava. Her science work has long been about researching the effect of sex hormones on specific cognitive abilities in both sexes. She has also spent the last 15 years researching the causes of autism. She founded the Academic Research Center for Autism which, based on interdisciplinary cooperation, provides parents and experts dealing with autism spectrum disorders with high-quality services in the field of screening, diagnostics, education and research. Not only is Daniela Ostatníková a pioneer in autism awareness in Slovakia, she has also participated in creating the legislation that introduced standard procedures for early screening and standard diagnostics of this neurodevelopmental disorder.
Source: ESET Science Award
Photo: ESET Science Award/Linda Kisková Bohušová