Merry Christmas from the GAMU Team
On behalf of the GAMU team, we wish you a peaceful Christmas holiday and successful year of 2021.
Selected scientists from Masaryk University were awarded for their outstanding research results and significant achievements in the field of research from 2019 to 2020 by the Vice-Rector for Research and Doctoral Studies prof. Šárka Pospíšilová. The MUNI Scientist award ceremony took place virtually at the Annual Conference of the Grant Agency of Masaryk University (GAMU) in mid-December. Thirty seven scientists and their teams from various faculties, institutes and research centers received the award.
The MUNI Scientist Award is a new category of GAMU. Nominations are internal and made by vice-deans for science and research of faculties, directors of research centers, director of the Center for Technology Transfer, vice-rector for research and doctoral studies and head of the Research Office of the MU Rectorate. The aim is not only to appreciate and highlight significant scientific achievements over the past period, but also to strengthen the motivation of outstanding researchers at the University and to promote the name of Masaryk University in the scientific community and public.
Long-term excellent results in research, participation in publications in top publishers and within the Faculty of Arts extraordinary foreign visibility of research in the field of etymological study of Indo-European languages and other language families. The results are documented by the presence of the work in the leading quartiles of SCOPUS.
Luděk Bláha is the coordinator of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (MSCA-ITN) project PRORISK - "Best chemical risk assessment professionals for maximum Ecosystem Services benefit". PRORISK is the first MSCA-ITN coordinated by Masaryk University and only fifth coordinated by a Czech institution since the establishment of Marie Curie Actions in 1996 (for reference, about 1,600 ITN networks were funded in total during that time). The PRORISK consortium comprises 18 universities, research institutions, enterprises and partner organisations in 9 European countries and Canada. Vision of PRORISK is to provide a unique value by creating a novel platform for training a network of Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) in the field of advanced Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA).
For supervising the MSCA Individual Fellowship ITRABAE awarded to Subodh Verma, PhD. MSCA Individual fellowships are highly prestigious fellowships received in European competition, which implies attracting excellent new postdoc from abroad (here, National Institute of Plant Genome Research, Delhi, India). The project will address the mechanisms of plant hormones regulation by warm temperatures during embryo development in Arabidopsis.
For being awarded an international consortium project eDICT in the H2020 ERA-NET programme QUANTERA as a coordinator.
Exceptional scientists truly dedicated to the research of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. The research focus of the whole Bryjalab team has been the Wnt signaling and its role in cell biology and in several maligancies, including chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). During the first stage of the discovery process, our data showed that the non-canonical Wnt signaling branch is one of the driving forces of CLL pathogenesis. Later, they have managed to use specific inhibitors of this pathway to block the disease development in a well-described CLL mouse model. And finally, in collaboration with the colleagues from the MU Chemistry department, they have managed to develop novel small-molecule inhibitors of the pathway, which were shown to be effective in preclinical models of the disease and currently aim at clinical phases of testing to become a novel form of therapy for leukemia, lymphoma and other malignancies.
Jiří Damborský and his team deserve to be awarded not only for exceptional research but also for active approach in science communication and outreach on a long-term horizon. Many highly talented students started their professional careers and received high-quality training for professional growth in the team. The software tools developed by the Loschmidt Laboratories are used globally for engineering proteins applicable in biotechnology and biomedicine.
Telomerase RNA (TR) acts as a template for telomere synthesis and a scaffold for telomerase assembly. Fajkus’s team identified the first plant TR and TRs across the other land plants. Contrary to the existing paradigm, plant TRs are monophyletic and transcribed with RNA pol III, in contrast to RNA Pol II in animals or yeasts. This makes it possible to identify TRs from NGS data, predict telomere DNA from TR template regions and exploit telomerase manipulation in crop breeding and biotechnology.
Petr Vaňhara as the first author together with Aleš Hampl in the role of the corresponding author published an article "Intact Cell Mass Spectrometry as a Quality Control Tool for Revealing Minute Phenotypic Changes of Cultured Human Embryonic Stem Cells" awarded level 1 of the M17+ evaluation (Vaňhara et al., 2018). The awarded piece of science is the result of long-term fruitful cooperation with prof. Josef Havel and his team from the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science MU. The findings produced by this research set grounds for the development of new therapeutic scenarios based on the utility of stem cells and their differentiated derivatives.
Petr Holub is nominated for his significant involvement in the BBMRI international research infrastructure community, as demonstrated by a policy article in the EJHG on the role of infrastructure in the scientific solution to the COVID crisis.
Tomáš Janík as the leader of the international team published the book Curriculum changes in Visegrad four: three decades after the fall of communism at Waxmann. It evaluates curriculum and curricular policy in the V4 countries over the past 30 years. The book explores the nature of curriculum reform, highlights the reform as a means by which school quality can be improved, and provides a discussion on the further development of curricular policy.
For a long-term excellent management of a team and an entire institute that was awarded all three main widening instruments in one year (a feat not achieved by any other institution in EU or anywhere else). Jana Klánová is the coordinator of the most significant of the three mentioned instruments, the Teaming project.
Award of the Board of the Czech Science Foundation (GACR) for the project "FGF signaling in mammary gland fibroblasts and its role in mammary gland development and tumors". The corresponding author of a publication in T10: "Sumbal J., Koledová Z .: FGF signaling in mammary gland fibroblasts regulates multiple fibroblast functions and mammary epithelial morphogenesis" in the journal Development in 2019, with the first author Jakub Sumbal, an undergraduate student of general medicine.
David Kosař has long been involved in the field of justice, constitutional courts and division of power. His research stands on the border between legal and political science. In cooperation with colleagues from the FSS, he published an article in 2019/2020 in the top magazine European Constitutional Law Review (Q2). In the same period, he has published together with colleagues Faculty of Law, chapters in 3 books published at The Oxford University Press and one chapter in a book published at The Cambridge University Press.
Award of the Czech Science Foundation Board (GACR) for solving the project "Internal properties of RAD51 fiber and its biological regulation". The corresponding author of several publications awarded level 1 in Module 1 of the M17 + evaluation (Šebesta et al., 2017; Kolinjivadi et al., 2017) and a recent publication in Nature (Feretzaki et al., 2020). Successful collaboration on novel DNA damage targets in oncology with Artios Pharma Ltd.
Antonín Kučera is an internationally recognized researcher in the field of theoretical computer science and formal methods for modelling and analysis of computer systems. He served the scientific community as the Vice President of the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science (EATCS, 2012-2020), a Member of the ERC Advanced Grant Panel PE6 (2017,2019), the Chairman of IFIP Working Group 2.2 (2018-2020), the Steering Committee Chair of the MFCS symposia series, an editorial board member of three established journals, and a program committee member of many top computer science conferences. In the year 2016, he received the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
Kateřina Lojdová deals with school education and teacher training. She published an article Socialization of a student-teacher on teaching practice into the discursive community of the classroom, which highlights the process of socialization of a student-teacher on teaching practice. The discursive analysis shows that students should gain experience from various educational discourses and critically reflect on them. Her research has implication for teacher education.
Martin A. Lysák (H-index 42, over 6,000 citations) is recognized internationally as one of the leading experts in the field of comparative and evolutionary plant cytogenomics. Recently, his team elucidated genome structure and evolution of horseradish, wattercress (Mandáková and Lysak, Plant Physiology 179, 2019), progenitor species of the oilseed crop false flax (Camelina sativa; Mandáková et al., Plant Cell 31, 2019) and documented karyotype differentiation through formation of evolutionary new centromeres in the largest crucifer tribe (Mandáková et al., Plant Cell 32, 2020). While comparative cytogenomic maps of horseradish and watercress represent a first stepping stone for future whole-genome sequencing efforts in both crop species, identification of probable parental genomes of the hexaploid false flax genome should advance the genetic improvement of this emerging oilseed crop.
A personality leading the workplace, which in recent years has developed into a leader in the field and is currently the best in the Czech Republic. He has published a number of works indexed in the WoS and SCOPUS quartiles. Long-term cooperation in research mainly with German and Austrian partners, PL of a number of important projects, recently granted project of excellence in basic research EXPRO (GAČR).
Hana Macháčková studies the effects of the use of internet and technology on well-being. She has excellent results in research on online risks and especially online aggression among children and adolescents.
Marek Mráz has significantly contributed to the understanding of B cell leukemias and lymphomas biology and targeted therapy. He received an ERC Starting grant to support his work and several awards for his research, including Neuron, Cancer League, Czech Oncology Society, European Association of Haematology, and Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Recently, Dr. Mraz has been elected a member of the grants committee of the Federation of European Biochemistry Societies and as a first Czech expert to the committee of the European Haematology Association.
Klára Osolsobě and Dana Hlaváčková are leading researchers in interdisciplinary application research on the border of humanities and informatics: Web spelling, grammar and typographic proofreader for the Czech language. Experienced researcher of several application research projects.
As Vice-Dean, Petr Pirožek contributed to the development of doctoral studies at the Faculty of Economics and Administration. Some of his activities have a university-wide impact. He was the initiator of negotiations on the policy concerning the concept of Collaborative PhD, the preparation of which he then coordinated. The result is a university-wide strategy for the cooperation of MU and partners in the application sphere on the supervision of doctoral students' dissertation theses.
In 2020 Pavel Plevka became the corresponding author of the article “Structure and mechanism of DNA delivery of a gene transfer agent” published in Nature Communications. He was awarded the “Werner von Siemens Prize for the Most Important Discovery in Basic Research in 2020”. Dr. Plevka participated in numerous radio and television interviews and contributed to newspaper articles informing the Czech public about the development and consequences of COVID-19 pandemics.
Radim Polčák is a world class expert in the field of cyber law and data protection. He is also the founding element and head of the unique Institute of Law and Technology within the Faculty of Law. Radim Polčák has been publishing for a long time at prestigious international publishing houses. In the academic year 2019/2020 as sole author it was e.g. Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and as co-author at Springer and Kluwer Law International. His works are the top in the field.
Adéla Souralová focuses in her research at family and intergenerational relationships, child care, grandchildren, and the bonds of grandchildren with their grandparents. In this area, she achieved excellent results published in top international journals.
A promising researcher with excellent results in research in the field of social sciences, visibility abroad built over many years and a rapid shift to publications indexed in high quartiles. Significant presence in debates on the reform of Czech education, a number of research projects with application potential.
The report "EU Kids Online 2020: Survey results from 19 countries" presents the results of international research on the benefits and risks of the internet for European children. Led by MU scientists, the report has major implications in science and media. Eight months since the publication, the report has received 16 citations in WoS and 43 citations in Google Scholar. At least 40 follow-up articles have been published in the Czech media, and there are hundreds of media responses abroad.
Petra Urbanová and Mikoláš Jurda from the Department of Anthropology (SCI) in collaboration with Helena Lukášová (FI) and Ctibor Ostrý (ARTS) are nominated for outstanding results of the interdisciplinary project. It joined MUNI Faculties of Science, Informatics and Arts and Brno city museum and Capuchin crypt, and investigated the famous personality of baron František Trenck (1711–1749). The mummified body of Trenck deposited in Capuchin crypt was assessed by the cutting edge technologies such as 3D scanning, UV and IR photography, optical and electron microscopy and 3D printing, DNA analysis combined with in depth studies of historical documents. Some results were published internationally (Forensic Science International, Journal of Forensic Identification), and a monograph is currently in press. The work resulted in artistic outcomes – 3D virtual reconstruction of Trenck and short movie based on 3D animations.
Ladislav Vyhnánek's has been an active researcher in the field of constitutional law, human rights and judicial studies for years and his research outputs have been published by prestigious publishing houses and in respected international journals. In the academic year 2019/2020, he contributed to monographs published by Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press or Springer and co-authored (with other colleagues from the law faculty) a novel monograph on domestic judicial treatment of the European Court of Human Rights case-law in Routledge. At the same time, he works as an assistant to a Justice of the Czech Constitutional Court.
Norbert Werner's achievement was acknowledged by The New York Times article titled "This This Black Hole Blew a Hole in the Cosmos" published March 6th 2020. This article referres to Norbert Werner whose observations with NASA’s orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory helped lead to this discovery.
On behalf of the GAMU team, we wish you a peaceful Christmas holiday and successful year of 2021.
Six female scientists received a Career Restart grant, which seeks to create conditions for the inclusion of researchers after the interruption of their careers into research teams at Masaryk University.