The EU’s Descartes Prize is five years old and going strong
The Descartes Prize, a Commission-hosted science competition, is gearing up for its fifth edition to be held in the Czech Republic next month. Eight projects have been selected as this year’s examples of excellent research collaboration. Two winners will share in the €1 million in prize money..
The Descartes Prize honours René Descartes, one of the truly great thinkers of our time, and a man whose name has become synonymous with European excellence. This prize for outstanding scientific and technological achievements resulting from collaborative research is the Union’s way of feting scientists who reach the level of excellence enshrined in Descartes’ name.
|“I think, therefore I am.” Famous words by René Descartes (1596-1650), a pioneer of the Age of Reason|
© European Commission
The competition identifies and showcases examples of top research today. At the same time, it raises awareness of the benefits of working together to achieve ambitious scientific goals at the European level. This year, a new prize has been added to fuel interest in the scientific communication aspect and, ultimately, to improve public understanding of scientific research.
For the fifth edition, 25 eligible research projects were whittled down by panels of experts to a shortlist of eight finalists, which will be presented in Prague on 2 December. Meanwhile, 19 finalists in the scientific communication prize have been selected from almost 50 submissions in seven categories. These will vie for five grand prizes worth a total of €250 000 being awarded in the Czech Republic.
Top research and scientific communication
The eight research finalists cover quite a range of scientific fields, including advanced photocathodes for optimising the use of light in medical and biological fields, new frontiers in molecular and nano-science using dendrimers, applications to keep our information society out of the hackers’ hands, and science that bridges the quantum gap with long-distance photonic quantum communication.
Audiences in Prague will hear how computational science is helping to create novel materials for practical uses, and how new methods for administering drugs may help people with vascular disease and cancer. They will also witness the latest research on the molecular mechanisms behind mitochondrial diseases and ageing, as well as new discoveries on the molecular structure of the urokinase receptor in cancer.
Descartes research into proteases is giving new hope to cancer patients, while work on the magneto-optical behaviour of new nano-materials promises to pave the way for future developments in computer technologies. All of the finalists reflect the importance of working together in different countries and settings. By honouring their work, the Union also hopes to improve the visibility of European research by promoting such excellence on the world stage, the literature states.
This list of communication prize finalists covers a wide range of media and actors, including papers from professional scientists, articles from journalists successfully ‘popularising’ science, scientific documentaries and radio/TV programmes, books on popular science, editorial decisions promoting science, and other innovative activities advancing scientific communication.
These works are shining examples of a commitment to casting science and the scientific profession in the best light, according to the promotional literature. They help raise awareness of the vital role that research and science play in everyday lives in Europe, from the technologies we use to the medical treatments keeping us healthy.
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