Pain therapy, brain plasticity and automata theory: winners of the National Science Centre 2016 Award announced

Friday, 14 October 2016

Dr hab. Marcin Szwed, dr hab. Katarzyna Starowicz-Bubak and prof. dr hab. Mikołaj Bojańczyk are the laureates of the National Science Centre 2016 Award.  Each scholar will receive the equivalent of nearly €12,000 in recognition of their accomplishments in basic research.

The National Science Centre Award was established as a means of promoting young researchers: laureates are chosen from amongst researchers under 40. The award is conferred for outstanding achievements in basic research, i.e. experimental or theoretical endeavours made with a view towards gaining new knowledge, which are not directly commercial application-oriented. The selection of the winners included authors of research projects carried out in Polish research centres, documented with publications.

In the field of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, the award was granted to dr hab. Marcin Szwed from the Institute of Psychology, Jagiellonian University, for large-scale research on the plasticity of the human brain in people with impaired eyesight and hearing. The team he coordinates has been successful in disproving some long-standing theses on the division of the brain into separate sense-related parts. The award is sponsored by Grupa Azoty S.A.

I’m grateful to the NCN for awarding me “the scientific Nike” [Poland’s most prestigious literary award] , because this proves that you can come back to Poland and still be able to carry out great science, said dr hab. Szwed. This award comes also as deserved recognition for the team of fantastic people I’m honoured to be working with.

The laureate of the award in Life Sciences is dr hab. Katarzyna Starowicz-Bubak from the Institute of Pharmacology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Among her outstanding achievements is her discovery of the role of the endocannabinoid system in the development and treatment of chronic pain; she has also developed a new pharmacological approach to the therapy of osteoarthtosis-related pain. Her award is sponsored by Biprostal S.A. and Koksoprojekt BIS Sp. z o.o.

This award confirms the significance of my research, which is the successful treatment of pain. It in a way crowns my achievements in this matter, but it also gives me the impulse to do further work, to improve the effectiveness of analgesic procedures in treating patients with chronic pain syndromes, said dr hab. Starowicz-Bubak.

The third laureate of the NCN 2016 Award, in the field of Physical Sciences and Technology, is professor dr hab. Mikołaj Bojańczyk from the Institute of Informatics, University of Warsaw. The award committee has recognised his outstanding contribution to automata theory and logic. The award is sponsored by EDF Polska S.A.

I feel honoured to receive the NCN Award. I consider it a gesture of acknowledgment to a larger community of researchers in Poland who work on the basics of informatics. I believe that this is one of the strengths of Poland’s science, and our researchers can freely compete with their colleagues in the best centres around the world, said professor Bojańczyk.

The National Science Centre Award is conferred by a committee comprising representatives of the Council of the National Science Centre, the Director of the Centre and sponsors. The three winners have been selected out of 49 candidates submitted by eminent scholars. Each person could name only one candidate. Some researchers received multiple nominations.

The award gala took place on 12th October 2016 at the Gallery of 19th Century Polish Art – the Sukiennice. The sponsors’ representatives gave the laureates memorial statuettes. The ceremony host was Grażyna Torbicka and the event was accompanied by an accordion concert from Weronika Sura.