Curious Mind Research Award 2020 News – Merck global | Merck global

22 Oct 2020 | Darmstadt, Germany
  • Microbiologist, geneticist, infection biologist and Nobel Prize winner Charpentier recognized
  • Curious Mind Award for young scientists presented to Siegfried Rasthofer and Björn Eskofier

Merck, a leading science and technology company, and manager magazin today inducted Emmanuelle Charpentier (51), Founding Director of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens in Berlin, Germany, into the Hall of Fame of German Research. In addition, the two hosts presented the Curious Mind Researcher Award at the same event. Siegfried Rasthofer (32), a computer scientist, received the prize worth € 7,500 in the “Digitalization & Robotics” category. Björn Eskofier (40), an electrical engineer, was also recognized with € 7,500 for his work in the “Life Science” category.

In a video message, German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “It is a privilege to now be able to induct a renowned scientist and designated Nobel laureate into the Hall of Fame of German Research. The Curious Mind Researcher Award also demonstrates that Germany is a research location that offers superb framework conditions for cutting-edge research,” she added and congratulated the prizewinners.

“Many scientists are making extraordinary accomplishments – particularly here in Germany as well. This is evident not only in the fight against Covid-19. Thanks to their passion and perseverance, they are creating the preconditions for the advancement of society. Today, we are delighted to honor the excellent achievements of both experienced and young researchers,” said Stefan Oschmann, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Merck at the virtual award ceremony held today in Darmstadt.

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Emmanuelle Charpentier has focused most of her scientific career on understanding the fundamental mechanisms of diseases with a particular focus on infections caused by Gram-positive bacterial pathogens such as Listeria, staphylococci and streptococci. Charpentier has already received  multiple national and international awards for her work, including the Alexander von Humboldt Professorship, the Leibniz Prize, the Otto Warburg Medal, the Pour le Mérite Order for Sciences and Arts, and among other things the French National Order of Merit, the Kavli Prize, and just recently the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020.

With his work, Siegfried Rasthofer wants to help to contain and prevent cyberattacks on companies. To this end, he has conducted research in the field of automatic vulnerability detection in software and malware analysis. Currently, the computer scientist works for the reinsurer Munich Re in Munich, Germany; prior to that he was a researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology (Fraunhofer SIT) in Darmstadt. Algorithms developed by Rasthofer detect IT weaknesses and make digital data traffic more secure.

Björn Eskofier is currently researching digital support systems in sports and medical engineering as the Heisenberg Professor for Computer Science at Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg. Among other things, he uses machine learning and mobile sensor systems to analyze the gait of patients with Parkinson’s disease so as to improve diagnostics and to measure therapeutic success. This is expected to prevent the number of falls and increase quality of life.

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The research work by the three scientists was recognized at a virtual ceremony in Darmstadt attended by numerous guests from the worlds of business, politics and science. In 2009, manager magazin introduced the Hall of Fame of German Research to honor outstanding scientists for their superb contributions to the further development of research in Germany, simultaneously enhancing the future prospects of Germany as a business location. The members include Harald zur Hausen, winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Medicine, Stefan Hell, winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and Karlheinz Brandenburg, developer of the mp3 data compression method, as well as former Merck liquid crystal researcher, Ludwig Pohl.

Granted for the first time in 2018, the Curious Mind Researcher Award honors the work of young scientists conducting research in Germany. The prize recognizes curious minds up to the age of 40, whose work is characterized by originality and excellence, and whose innovative strength is already providing impetus for the further development and future viability of Germany as a business location.

A high-caliber jury comprising representatives of the most innovative and important sectors of German industry selects the award recipients. The award categories alternate each year. In 2018, these were “Life Science” and “Digitalization & Robotics”; in 2019 “Materials & Active Ingredients” and “Mobility & Energy”; this year the two categories are the same as in 2018.


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