Each winner will receive up to €1,250,000 over a five-year period in an award that is comparable in scope to the Nobel Prize.
The prize winners, invited guests and representatives of the media were welcomed to the Awards ceremony by Bálint Magyar, Hungarian Minister of Education, and Etele Baráth, Hungarian Minister of European Union Affairs. The opening address was given by Attila Meskó, Secretary General of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The keynote address was given by Professor Peter Nijkamp, Chairman of EuroHORCs, the association of the heads of public national research and research funding organisations in Europe, and joint developer with ESF of the EURYI Awards.
The Awards ceremony was introduced and managed by Professor Norbert Kroó, Vice President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The response was given by prize winner Zoltán Nusser on behalf of all the 2005 winners, and the concluding address by Professor Bertil Andersson, Chief Executive of ESF.
Commenting on the importance of prizes like the EURYI Awards to the younger generation of talented science researchers, Nobel Prize winner Professor Arber said, "I was impressed to see that the awards jury had recognized the quality of the winners. It gives a big impulse to them. Having received a five-year award to fund most of the costs of their research projects is very important because they can now achieve a great deal in that time."
He added, "I was also impressed with the interdisciplinarity of the winners which includes lawyers, biologists and astronomers, so it is a very wide field." Reflecting a common view expressed by many of the 2005 winners, Dutchman Lucas Pelkmans - awarded a €1.2m EURYI prize for his project on systems analysis of caveolae- and lipid raft-mediated endocytosis in multicellular physiology - said, "It's nice recognition of my work so far. Professionally, it gives me freedom to focus on my research and not worry about the money. This is what we all want to do most."
Swiss Award winner Patrick Meraldi agreed. "This award gives us security for five years to really focus on the research," he said, adding that the recognition aspect is important. "I think it is good that such an award exists in Europe," he said. "There is recognition beyond just a national level which is a very good aspect." Miraldi's €1m award will enable him to pursue functional and proteomics-based analysis of human kinetochores.
"I feel tremendously fortunate to have won this award," said Susana Marcos Celestino. " It's a big impulse to the work my group and I will be carrying out in the next few years." The young Spanish research scientist was awarded €1.1m to fund her research into the physical and technological approaches to the understanding and correction of myopia and presbyopia.
Now entering its third year, the EURYI Awards scheme aims to stimulate the most talented up-and-coming postdoctoral researchers in the world to pursue careers in academia in Europe based on scientific excellence. The EURYI Awards are offered by 20 European national research organisations in an open competition, with candidates selected on the basis of their academic and research excellence and their future potential.
"We really have to put our efforts into promoting the excellence of science in Europe today and tomorrow," Professor Andersson said. "The awards we have seen today are the best sign of that excellence for tomorrow."
In September, the Call for Proposals for the 2006 EURYI Awards was announced; the closing date is 30 November 2005.
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