|Prize for the best dissertation|
Salome Gluecksohn-Waelsch Prize for the best dissertation
The Salome Gluecksohn-Waelsch Prize is awarded once a year. To be considered for the award, SGBM students must write a two-page summary of their dissertation and provide a one-page CV, which is assessed by the awards committee of the Spemann Graduate School of Biology and Medicine (SGBM) at the Albert-Ludwigs University of Freiburg. The files for a select group of candidates are then provided to the awards committee at Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Department of Genetics). This committee recommends its selection for the laureate and the final decision on the prize winner is made jointly by Einstein’s Department of Genetics and SGBM.
The laureate is invited to travel to New York and give a seminar in the Department of Genetics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The expenses are covered by the two institutions. While other prizes may come with a big endowment, the aim of this award is to explicitly further the exchange of ideas, to build bridges and open doors for promising scientists at the start of their career.
The 2015 Salome Gluecksohn-Waelsch Prize laureate
SGBM and the Department of Genetics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York have awarded the Salome Gluecksohn-Waelsch prize for the best dissertation in biomedical sciences for the fourth time. The 2015 laureate is Dr. Tanel Mahlakoiv.
Tanel Mahlakoiv was born in Tallinn, Estonia, in 1985. After obtaining his BSc in Genetics at the University of Tartu, Estonia, in 2007, he moved to the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon (ENS Lyon), and completed his MSc in Biosciences in 2009. Tanel joined SGBM in January 2010 and started his PhD in the lab of Prof. Peter Staeheli in April the same year. In January 2014 he defended his thesis entitled “Innate Antiviral Defenses of the Epithelium: A Non-Redundant Role of Interferon Lambda in the Gastrointestinal Tract”. His beautiful work resulted in first-author publications in Nature Immunology, PLoS Pathog., J Gen Virol and several co-author publications.
Previous laureates are:
Who was Salome Gluecksohn-Waelsch?
The prize commemorates the life and achievements of Salome Gluecksohn-Waelsch, who overcame enormous adversities to become a leading geneticist of the 20th century and the first to formulate the synthesis of experimental embryology and genetics that lies at the core of developmental genetics. Readers who are familiar with Gluecksohn-Waelsch’s remarkable life may be somewhat surprised that a program named after the experimental embryologist Hans Spemann should name the prize awarded to the most promising doctoral thesis after her, given that Spemann himself largely failed to recognise the genius of his graduate student and that Gluecksohn-Waelsch considered her PhD thesis on the development of limbs in newts rather menial work. Having said that, Gluecksohn-Waelsch has arguably been Spemann’s most effective critic and it is exactly the dialectic nature of the scientific method that has led to the advancement of our understanding of the natural world. Her outstanding contributions to science and the manner in which she came to reach them are truly worth praising and celebrating.