News

5

December

2023

This year's winner of the Dream Chemistry Award competition is organic chemist Mark Levin with his vision for revolutionizing the synthesis of functional molecules

The Dream Chemistry Award, a unique competition that does not count scientific articles in prestigious journals or affiliations with renowned universities, knows its winner for this year. Its contestants are young scientists within seven years of having received their doctorate. To be true to its name, it rewards ideas so novel that their realization is akin to fulfilling a bold human dream. The 2023 award has been given to Mark Levin from the University of Chicago, whose aim is to simplify the design of pharmaceutically active substances.

The winner of the 2023 Dream Chemistry Award competition is Dr. Mark Levin of the University of Chicago. (Photo: Tomáš Belloň / IOCB Prague)

Co-organized by the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the Dream Chemistry Award reaches out to researchers that are at the beginning of their careers and are trying to solve fundamental problems in chemistry or related fields. To achieve this goal, they propose innovative solutions to problems with a global impact. It is the general benefit that can come from these projects which is crucial for success in this competition.

This year, the challenge was tackled the best by Dr Mark Levin with his dream about the targeted editing of the skeletons of aromatic molecules. His vision is that molecular designers will be better able to synthesize new functional molecules directly, preferably avoiding dead ends. This would give the world substances with properties that are perfectly suited to specific roles, which is especially important for modern medicinal chemistry. The reason is that this field is currently facing a multitude of problems, for example concerning the effectiveness of medicines.

‘It is a real breakthrough that can fundamentally transform the way new molecules are discovered, even though this will require a collaborative effort from many research groups around the world,’ says Mark Levin, adding that ‘It can revolutionize the science of synthesis.’

The finalists of the 2023 Dream Chemistry Award (Foto: Tomáš Belloň / ÚOCHB) (Photo: Tomáš Belloň / IOCB Prague)

Contestants are nominated for the competition by their reputable senior colleagues from scientific institutions around the world. Young researchers that accept the nomination and prepare a competition submission get evaluated by an international scientific committee. One of its members as well as organizer of the Czech branch of the competition, Prof. Pavel Jungwirth from IOCB Prague, describes: ‘This year's Dream Chemistry Award event presented five scientifically strong finalists, and the jury and audience heard five great lectures. It is difficult to choose a winner from among such brilliant candidates, but this is what the jury is for.’

‘I enjoyed all the lectures. They were of really high quality,’ agrees the representative of the Polish side, Prof. Robert Hołyst, adding: ‘These people are exceptional, and it is a great honour to be part of such a competition. Although, come to think of it, for us this is not a mere competition; we are talking about the Dream Chemistry Award – a festival of science.’

Also visiting Prague this year are young recipients of the award from previous years: Karl Brozek, Jessica Kramer and Yujia Qing, who shone in the competition four years ago. Since then, the postdoctoral researcher and then youngest finalist has become an associate professor in organic chemistry at Oxford (UK) and leader of her own research group. How did her success in the Dream Chemistry Award help her? Yujia answers: ‘Receiving this award in the field of chemical biology helped me start my own research programme. I was particularly inspired by the scientific discussion that accompanied the competition. I received a lot of feedback. I also really appreciate the support given by the Dream Chemistry Award’s committee. A letter of recommendation from one of its members undoubtedly helped me land my current faculty position.’

She is not giving up on her dream of sequencing all life, molecule by molecule, with which she impressed the evaluators in 2019, although she admits that she will have to take a different path than she originally envisaged. ‘I will celebrate every step forward and stay open to all the surprises that science can bring to me’, Yujia Qing looks to the future.

From the left: the organizers of the competition Prof. Pavel Jungwirth (IOCB Prague) and Prof. Robert Hołyst (IChF PAS) and the winner of the 2023 Dream Chemistry Award Dr. Mark Levin (University of Chicago). (Photo: Tomáš Belloň / IOCB Prague)

The main accolade, the Dream Chemistry Award, comes with an original glass statuette and a prize of €10,000. The remaining finalists have received the TOP 5 Prize and a financial reward of €1,000. The top five include: Aisha Bismillah from the University of York in the UK (accelerating the development of shape-shifting molecules and their use in medicine), Moran Frenkel-Pinter from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (studying primordial peptides as mixtures to find connections between today's biochemistry and the chemical principles from prebiotic times that led to the origin of life on Earth), Francesca Grisoni from the Eindhoven University of Technology (revolutionizing the next generation of artificial intelligence based on principles of chemical intuition) and Barak Hirshberg from Tel Aviv University (designing molecular crystals with customized properties using machine learning algorithms).

The Dream Chemistry Award was founded ten years ago by Prof. Robert Hołyst from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw (IChF PAS). In 2017, the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences (IOCB Prague) joined as the second organizing institution, and since then the competition has been held annually, alternating between Prague and Warsaw. The award is financially supported by the IOCB Tech Foundation.

Barak Hirshberg (Tel Aviv University) presented a project titled "A Computational Molecular Sculptor"
Francesca Grisoni (Eindhoven University of Technology) presented a project titled "Revolutionizing AI for Molecule Discovery with Artificial Chemical Intuition"
Moran Frenkel-Pinter (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) presented a project titled "Emergence of Primordial Peptide Replicators"
Aisha Bismillah (University of York) presented a project titled "Noncovalent Control of ‘Shapeshifting’ Molecules"
Archive

10

October

2023

Prague

Finalists of the Dream Chemistry Award 2023 selected

The DCA Scientific Committee selected top projects from this year’s submissions. Five finalists are invited to present their projects in person during the contest’s final, which will be held at IOCB Prague on 4–5 December 2023.

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23

March

2023

Prague

Call for Dream Chemistry Award 2023 nominations

We accept nominations for the Dream Chemistry Award 2023. Nominators must hold a PhD and have at least ten years of experience since the publication of their first scientific paper. The nominations are open until June 30.

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6

December

2022

Warsaw

From capturing energy to capturing the Dream Chemistry Award 2022

Today is a big day for science. Young minds were awarded in the contest like no other. The scientists, visionaries, and dreamers, not hesitating to ask "What if?" achieved the prizes in the Dream Chemistry Award competition in Warsaw, Poland. This award is not about scientific achievements but about vision. This unique international contest promotes young researchers who want to step forward with innovative dreams. The Dream Chemistry Award was established in 2013 by Robert Hołyst from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences (ICF), Warsaw, Poland. Since 2017 the contest has been co-organized with the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences (IOCB Prague), Prague, Czech Republic.

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21

November

2022

Warsaw

Dream Chemistry Award 2022 is coming

Nothing is better than dreaming about progress, innovation, and the future. All scientists have a dream, but not everyone dares to dream loudly, crossing schematic boundaries and jumping into the deep water. There are many grants supporting research and awards appreciating curious minds; however, there is only one unique award worldwide for visionary research projects in chemistry or a chemistry-related discipline. It is the Dream Chemistry Award.

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15

November

2022

Warsaw

Dream Chemistry Award 2022 Final – Schedule

Five finalists, selected by the DCA Scientific Committee were invited to present their dream projects and compete for the Dream Chemistry Award 2022. The final will take place on 5–6 December at the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw.

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27

September

2022

Warsaw

Finalists of the Dream Chemistry Award 2022 selected

The DCA Scientific Committee selected top projects from this year’s submissions. Five finalists are invited to present their projects in person during the contest’s final, which will be held on December 5–6 in Warsaw, Poland.

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22

December

2021

Prague

The organizers and the winner on the Dream Chemistry Award 2021

We asked Jarad Mason, the winner of the 2021 Dream Chemistry Award, about his impressions of the competition and his future research plans; as well as the main organizers of the Dream Chemistry Award, Pavel Jungwirth and Robert Hołyst, what they think about this year's competition and its development in recent years.

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7

December

2021

Prague

Treating hypoxia with microporous water – the 2021 Dream Chemistry Award goes to Jarad Mason of Harvard University

The winners of the 2021 Dream Chemistry Award and the TOP 5 Prize have been decided. This year’s Dream Chemistry Award and the financial prize of EUR 10,000 goes to Jarad Mason of Harvard University for his project on treating hypoxia with microporous water.

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1

December

2021

Prague

Dream Chemistry Award 2021 Final – Live stream

The final of the Dream Chemistry Award 2021, which takes place on 6–7 December 2021 in Prague, will see five finalists who will present their dream projects.

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1

October

2021

Prague

Finalists of Dream Chemistry Award 2021 selected

The DCA Scientific Committee selected top projects from this year’s submissions. Five finalists are invited to present their projects in person during the contest’s final, which will be held at IOCB Prague on 6–7 December 2021.

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8

December

2020

Warsaw

Dreaming big about the smallest things: Dream Chemistry Award 2020

On the 1 December, the jury has announced the winner of this year's Dream Chemistry Award. Because of the pandemic restrictions, the whole event has been carried online.

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1

February

2020

Emiliano Cortés: “To have big dreams you need to imagine that things can be different and that you can contribute towards that.”

An interview with Emiliano Cortés (Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany), the TOP 5 finalist of the Dream Chemistry Award 2019 with the project “Lighting Up Chemical Reaction Pathways”.

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1

February

2020

Jeffrey Martell: “We need to think expansively to identify research goals that others haven't thought of.”

An interview with Jeffrey D. Martell (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA), the TOP 5 finalist of the Dream Chemistry Award 2019 with the project “DNA Nano-Scaffolds for Rapid Discovery of Enzyme-Mimicking Catalysts”.

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1

February

2020

Yoeri van de Burgt: “Imagination and the ability to dream is essential. Most other logical and reasonable ideas have already been tried.”

An interview with Yoeri van de Burgt (Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands), the TOP 5 finalist of the Dream Chemistry Award 2019 with the project “Brain-Inspired Organic Modular Lab-on-a-Chip for Cell Classification”.

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1

February

2020

Hannes Mikula: “The Dream Chemistry Award was an amazing experience.”

An interview with Hannes Mikula (Vienna University of Technology, Austria), the TOP 5 finalist of the Dream Chemistry Award 2019 with the project “Double-targeted In Vivo Synthesis of Drugs at the Site of Disease”.

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1

February

2020

Yujia Qing: “The DCA gave me a unique opportunity to distill my abstract thoughts, which emerged during daily research, into a systematic plan.”

An interview with Yujia Qing (University of Oxford, UK), the winner of the Dream Chemistry Award 2019 with the project “Sequencing Life”.

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5

December

2019

Prague

Dream Chemistry Award 2019 goes to Yujia Qing of University of Oxford

Yujia Qing of University of Oxford has won the 2019 Dream Chemistry Award, an international competition for young scientists that took place on 2-3 December 2019, at the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences (IOCB Prague). In addition to the Dream Chemistry Award statuette, the winner also received two monetary prizes totaling €11,000.

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4

December

2018

Warsaw

Dr. Eric Daniel Glowacki with the Dream Chemistry Award 2018

The winner of the global Dream Chemistry Award competition this year is Dr. Eric Daniel Glowacki from the Linköping University. The Scientific Committee awarding the prize praised the laureate's project on catalysts for the production of clean energy from the hydrogen peroxide.

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10

October

2018

Warsaw

Dream Chemistry Award 2018 knows its Finalists

This year’s edition of the Dream Chemistry Award knows its finalists. The Scientific Committee selected top 5 candidates and their projects and invited the authors to Warsaw, Poland, to the finale of the contest which will be held on 3-4 December 2018.

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6

December

2017

Prague

Winning project of the DCA 2017 focuses on new perspectives for cancer treatment

On 4-5 December 2017, the finale of the international scientific contest Dream Chemistry Award was held in Prague, organized by the leading chemistry institutes of the Czech and Polish Academy of Sciences.

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