17.06.2016 change 17.06.2016

The scientific COPERNICUS Award presented in Warsaw

Two biochemists: Prof. Agnieszka Chacińska and Prof. Peter Rehling were awarded for the discovery of key mechanisms of mitochondrial biogenesis; the official presentation of Polish-German Scientific Award COPERNICUS was held on June 7 in Warsaw.

The winners of the 6th edition of the competition were Prof. Agnieszka Chacińska of the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw and Prof. Peter Rehling of the Göttingen University Medical Centre. Awards were presented for their joint research conducted since 2001. Each winner will receive 100 thousand euros.

The prize is awarded jointly by the Foundation for Polish Science (FNP) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). Since 2006 it has been given every two years to cooperating researchers from Poland and Germany, who can demonstrate outstanding research achievements that are the result of this cooperation.

President of the Foundation for Polish Science Prof. Maciej Żylicz said during the ceremony that history has come full circle - the first COPERNICUS Award was awarded 10 years ago, also in the field of biology. He argued that for achieving scientific excellence international cooperation and the opening of schools to foreign researchers is crucial.

President of the German Research Foundation Prof. Peter Strohschneider emphasised that the two organizations - FNP and DFG, and the two countries - Poland and Germany, stood the test of time and share close friendship and trust. "We can not, however, close our eyes to the fact that this year\'s anniversary COPERNICUS Award is presented in the time of crisis" - he said. He pointed to the growing power of populist movements in Europe, including Poland and in Germany.

"Openness, freedom of expression and joint action are very important for science, but not just for science, also for cultural and economic development (...)" - said the winner Prof. Agnieszka Chacińska.

Prof. Peter Rehling added that direct cooperation and an opportunity to work in one office were important in achieving success, for which the researchers received the prize. "It\'s very helpful when you can ask the person sitting next to you questions such as: +What do you think about that? Do you think this idea is stupid+? And then you start a discussion that ends up in an experiment, which can lead to unusual findings" - said the scientist.

Prof. Chacińska and Prof. Rehling published 17 joint publications in renowned international scientific journals, including "Cell" and "Science". Their collaboration started an intensively growing scientific exchange of doctoral students and postdocs between centres in Warsaw and Göttingen.

The jury appreciated the scientists\' discovery of key mechanisms of mitochondrial biogenesis. Mitochondria are known as "cellular power plants". They are where the process of cellular respiration occurs. The tests were carried out using genetic methods as well as molecular biology and biochemistry techniques. The results revolutionized views on the dynamics and coordination of processes of import of mitochondrial proteins - the jury decided. (PAP)

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