Physicist Markéta Icha Kubánková awarded Hermann Neuhaus Prize

The Max Planck Society (MPS) has awarded the Hermann Neuhaus Prize to Markéta Icha Kubánková, a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light (MPL) and the Max-Planck-Institut für Physik und Medizin (MPZPM). The prize, worth 25,000 euros, recognizes excellent postdocs and research group leaders who are conducting research with the potential for application at a Max Planck Institute.

For the first time, two prizes were awarded: Dr Markéta Icha Kubánková (right) and Oren Moscovitz (left) with Dr Patrick Cramer, President of the Max Planck Society. © David Ausserhofer

This year's Hermann Neuhaus Prize was awarded twice: in addition to Markéta Icha Kubánková, MPL, Oren Moscovitz, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, received the €25,000 prize.

Dr Kubánková from the Department of Biological Optomechanics of MPL Director Prof Jochen Guck, who is also spokesperson of the MPZPM, is investigating whether and how the physical properties of cells in human blood or tissue change during disease. She wants to use the findings on mechanical cell changes during disease for diagnostic purposes. To this end, cells are viewed as physical objects and analyzed using specially developed optical tools. Ultimately, the findings will be translated into medical applications. Kubánková's research is carried out in close collaboration with the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg and the Universitätsklinikum Erlangen as part of the newly established research center MPZPM in Erlangen.

"The work leading to the prize was a team effort and I am very grateful to my colleagues at MPL, MPZPM, FAU and the Uniklinikum Erlangen, as well as all the other participants, for their support. We will use the prize money to progress with medical research",  said Kubánková on receiving the Hermann Neuhaus Prize. Her research contributed to the establishment of the company Rivercyte, which produces devices and software for analyzing the physical phenotypes of cells, including their deformability, size and morphological characteristics.

The technology is based on imaging cytometry: thousands of individual cells flow rapidly through a narrow microfluidic channel. An image of each cell is recorded and analyzed. The physical properties of the cells reflect physiological and pathological changes in cell function. They are promising biomarkers for disease diagnosis and prognosis.

About the Hermann Neuhaus Prize

In 2008, the Westphalian entrepreneur Hermann Neuhaus was posthumously awarded the Harnack Medal. This is the MPS’s highest accolade that has been awarded to its greatest benefactor. Ten years later, in 2018, the Hermann Neuhaus Prize was launched and has been awarded every two years since then. It honours outstanding postdocs and research group leaders who conduct research with application potential at a Max Planck Institute. In his will, Hermann Neuhaus stipulated that his legacy should be used to support research projects or prizes in the medical and natural sciences with an application focus. (Source: www.maxplanckfoundation.org/)

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