‘Medical microrobots’, ‘room temperature superconductivity’ among 2020 science breakthroughs

Juries choose breakthroughs from 940 research projects

‘Medical microrobots’, ‘room temperature superconductivity’ among 2020 science breakthroughs

Photo for representation. — iStock

Berlin, November 9

Near room-temperature superconductivity for energy transmission without loss, medical microrobots to carry out risky surgeries in hard-to-reach body parts, and “revolutionary” protein based biomedicines are among the ten science breakthrough projects of the year announced here on Monday by the Falling Walls Foundation.

The outstanding research projects in ten categories, ranging from life sciences to science in the arts, were identified by a global jury chaired by Helga Nowotny, president emeritus of the European Research Council.

The juries chose the science breakthroughs of the year from 940 research projects that were nominated by academic institutions from 111 countries on all continents.

“We were overwhelmed by the global response to our open call for research breakthroughs and by the quality of the work,” Urgen Mlynek, Chairman of the Falling Walls Foundation said.

“The pandemic put tremendous stress on the research community, as much as it underscored the global need for research progress,” Mlynek said.

These breakthroughs mark significant progress in a wide range of fields, the foundation said.

For human health, the use of modified proteins as Trojan horses to treat cancer and viral infections marks a breakthrough as much as microrobots that move like jellyfish in the human body replacing risky surgery, it said.

In physical sciences category, Mikhail Eremets from Max-Planck-Institute for Chemistry in Germany was announced the winner for pioneering experiments that allow superconductivity at temperatures of a common household freezer by using unusual materials such as metallic hydrogen.

In the life sciences category, Christian Hackenberger from Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut fur Molekulare Pharmakologie, Berlin, was announced the winner for development of protein therapeutics, based on the modification and cellular delivery of antibodies to target cancer and viral infections.

For science in the arts category, London-based artist Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg was announced the winner for creating new bird voices to help in the understanding of negative impact of humans on nature.

“Another set of breakthroughs addresses global challenges as our perception of nature or the human ability to act in solidarity on a global scale,” the foundation said.

The projects were announced during the Falling Walls Conference and the Berlin Science Week held between November 1-10. — PTI

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