CU scientists feature among the first Eset Science Award laureates
On Friday 18 October 2019, the first ever ESET Science Awards were announced. Ľubomíra Tóthová was awarded in the category of Exceptional Scientist under 35 Years of Age and Tomáš Vinař won the category of Exceptional University Teacher. Both teach at Comenius University. The winner of the award for the most exceptional Slovak scientist went to Ján Tkáč from the Slovak Academy of Sciences. The winners were chosen by an international panel through a strenuous evaluation process.
By: CU Public Relations Office
“All three laureates and all the finalists are exemplary practitioners of modern science. Their scientific research is highly relevant in Slovakia as well as abroad, and it answers questions facing global society. I would like to congratulate everyone, and I believe that this award will help them in their scientific career,” says Richard Marko, the CEO of ESET.
The ESET Science Awards were launched at the end of last year by the ESET Foundation in order to highlight Slovak scientists whose contribution is significant for Slovakia as well as in the international scientific and research arena.
ĽUBOMÍRA TÓTHOVÁ, WINNER OF THE EXCEPTIONAL YOUNG SCIENTIST UP TO 35 YEARS OF AGE CATEGORY
Ľubomíra Tóthová works at the Faculty of Medicine of Comenius University in Bratislava. She studies how saliva can be used in the early non-invasive diagnosis of various illnesses, and she also researches kidney malfunction resulting from infections of the urinary tract. She has been attempting to connect these two areas by looking for biomarkers which would allow for the early diagnosis and monitoring of kidney failure. The result of this research should be a diagnostics test for kidney failure which uses saliva.
The saliva test should relieve nephrological patients of needing frequent blood collection. Tóthová is trying to analyse the waste substances of the metabolism – creatinine and urea – in saliva, which are present in very low concentrations among healthy people. By contrast, if the kidneys are damaged, urea and creatinine will begin to accumulate in the body in the blood as well as saliva. Although urea and creatinine cannot be used for the early diagnosis of kidney failure, they allow for the non-invasive monitoring of treatment efficacy and disease progression. This test would be suitable for patients on dialysis, those who have had a kidney transplantation, as well as diabetics and hypertension patients who have damaged kidneys. She is also investigating new biomarkers that would allow the much needed early diagnosis of kidney damage or failure.
TOMÁŠ VINAŘ, WINNER OF THE EXCEPTIONAL UNIVERSITY TEACHER CATEGORY
Tomáš Vinař works at the Faculty of Mathematics, Physics, and Informatics at Comenius University in Bratislava, and he deals with bioinformatics. He is the guarantor of the Data Science Study Programme.
Bioinformatics is the scientific discipline connecting informatics and biology. Tomáš Vinař is currently working on problems associated with the sequencing of genomes with the help of the first pocket-sized sequencing devices. The new methods he is developing will allow for the future use of these devices in hospitals and surgeries and will help in the early identification of microbial infections, which is key requirement for establishing the correct form of targeted treatment.
Vinař studied informatics at Comenius University in Bratislava and then completed his doctoral studies at the University of Waterloo in Canada followed by a postdoctoral research stay at Cornell University in the United States. He is the co-founder of the Bioinformatics and Data Science Programme at Comenius University and he has been teaching subjects focusing on algorithmic solutions to complex problems, machine learning, and integrating data, which are currently training exceptionally talented experts around the world.
Alongside giving specific information, Vinař asserts that the role of a university teacher is to encourage students to discover more about that which has not yet been researched. He firmly believes that even though the digital information available online is advanced, a real teacher is still an added benefit for students. However, the teacher has to provide something beyond the watching of videos. The teachers’ role is to build a dialogue and react to students’ responses, so that they become an integral part of lectures.