Over recent years, the Körber European Science Prize has developed into a high-ranking European science prize. In the last ten years alone, the Körber Prize winners included six scientists who were later awarded the Nobel Prize.
Prof. Dr. Martin Stratmann
Chairman of the Körber Prize Trustee Committee
Körber European Science Prize 2020 goes to Botond Roska. The Hungarian physician revolutionised ophthalmology with his work and is one of the world's leading experts in the study of vision and the retina.
Botond Roska has set himself the goal of restoring sight to the blind. Most eye diseases are caused by hereditary or age-related defects in the retina. Roska has carried out pioneering work to identify the approximately one hundred different cell types in the retina and their complex interplay in signal processing.
The scientist is now working on making these fundamental insights beneficial for patients and using gene therapies to alleviate or cure their diseases. Roska achieved a genuine breakthrough when he reprogrammed a cell type in the eye, enabling it to take over the function of defective light receptor cells. He was thus able to make blind retinas light-sensitive again – and clinical trials with blind people have already begun.
Botond Roska, 50, initially studied cello at the Academy of Music in Budapest, but had to give up his musical career due to an injury and subsequently completed his studies in medicine and mathematics. Together with Professor Hendrik Scholl, he became a founding director of the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology of the University Basel, IOB in December 2017.
The Körber European Science Prize 2020 was presented to Roska on 7 September in the Great Festival Hall of Hamburg City Hall.
“Future AI systems should also understand causality: Thinking is, according to Konrad Lorenz, nothing but acting in an imagined space. The representations that we learn should reflect an understanding of how the world reacts to our actions. This goes beyond the statistical methods that are the foundation of the present methods.” Bernhard Schölkopf, Körber Prizewinner 2019
“Neanderthals are the closest relations of humans. Comparisons of their genome with that of humans today or with those of other extinct hominins and chimpanzees provide precise molecular biological answers to fundamental questions concerning our evolutionary origin.” Svante Pääbo, Körber Prizewinner 2018