25. Jan. 2023

Every year, the Brno City Council awards the Brno City Prizes for significant achievements or activities that have enriched one or more areas of public life and have contributed to strengthening the reputation of the city of Brno. This year, two prominent personalities of the Brno-based research centre CEITEC were also awarded for their merits. Professor Tomas Sikola from CEITEC Brno University of Technology (BUT) received an award in the field of technical sciences, and Professor Jiri Fajkus from CEITEC Masaryk University (MU) received an award in the field of life sciences. Twelve other prominent Brno personalities were awarded in other fields.

Tomas Sikola studied physics at Masaryk University, then joined Tesla Brno as an independent development worker, and since 1986 he has been working at the Brno University of Technology. Since 2006 he has been the head of the Institute of Physical Engineering. Professor Sikola was a founding member of the team of scientists who were behing the birth of the Central European Institute of Technology CEITEC, which is today one of the leading research institutes in Central Europe. He is now leading the research area of Advanced Nanotechnology and Microtechnology.

Professor Sikola and his colleagues have worked on the implementation of several major European projects and collaborate with leading foreign universities and research centres, as well as with major industrial partners, especially in the field of electron microscopy. In particular, they are working together on the development of technological and analytical equipment for research on surfaces, thin films and nanostructures. Professor Sikola is very active in publishing and lecturing and organises international summer schools connecting physics and nanotechnology. In 2006 he was a visiting scholar at Stanford University, USA. Professor Tomas Sikola is a moral and professional authority and has contributed significantly to the development of Brno's scientific and technological potential.

Jiří Fajkus graduated in biochemistry at the Faculty of Science of Masaryk University, and he obtained the scientific rank of CSc at the Biophysical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in the field of biophysics. Since 2011, he has been working as the head of the research group at CEITEC MU and as the head of the Mendel Centre for Plant Genomics and Proteomics. Professor Fajkus is an internationally recognized expert in telomere biology in plants.  Telomeres are parts of chromosomes that protect them from damage. Telomere shortening is associated with ageing. An enzyme called telomerase can slow, stop or reverse the telomere shortening. 

In 2019, Jiří Fajkus with his team described the genes encoding the RNA subunits of plant telomerase. In 2021, he made another groundbreaking discovery - he elucidated the common origin of telomerase RNAs in plants, algae and evolutionarily more distant unicellular organisms. In doing so, he pushed knowledge of telomeres further back in time, over a span of more than a billion years. Jiří Fajkus has published his scientific results in more than 150 peer-reviewed publications with a high international citation rate and was elected a member of the prestigious European Molecular Biology Organization EMBO in 2021. The Brno City Prize is an expression of respect and confirms that Jiri Fajkus is an extraordinary personality who contributes to the prestige of the city of Brno. 

Author of the photo: Marie Schmerková

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