26 top young researchers, students, and teachers, including a representative from Masaryk University, received awards in the 21st annual Werner von Siemens Award competition. MUNI graduate Michaela Fojtů came second in the best doctoral dissertation category for her study of nanoparticles as a tool for targeted cancer therapy.
“The conventional way of administering anticancer drugs comes with a number of adverse effects and damage to healthy tissue, whether it’s the heart, kidneys, or other organs. Our objective was to bind these drugs to nanocarriers, which act as a kind of wrapping,” says Fojtů, explaining how researchers try to avoid damaging healthy parts of the body. However, she also noted that some methods of testing the cardiotoxicity of nanomaterials are not without problems.
The Werner von Siemens Award is unique in that in addition to the young researchers, it also recognises their supervisors. In the case of Michaela Fojtů, these were Michal Masařík and Marie Nováková from the Department of Physiology at the MU Faculty of Medicine. Although Fojtů still works part-time at the department, she now spends most of her time at the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague, where she continues her research under Martin Pumera, one of the most cited Czech researchers, who supervised her during her internship in Singapore.
The 21st annual Siemens award for excellent results in technology and science saw record participation this year with 645 applicants.
Recognition for Rector Mikuláš Bek
The Siemens award is given across a range of categories: the best master’s and PhD thesis, the most important basic research finding, the best teacher, excellent research results by female scientists, best thesis on a topic related to Industry 4.0, and students who overcame obstacles to achieve excellent results.
“I actually think it is making university studies available to people with various disabilities – and not the citation ratings that we like to boast about – where Czech universities have made the biggest improvements in recent years,” says MU Rector Mikuláš Bek, who chaired the award committee for this category.
Bek was also recognised by Siemens. As his second term in office draws to an end, the company highlighted his long-term contributions to Czech academia and his efforts to promote collaboration between universities and other sectors.