Martin Toul won the Czech Head 2023 award

Martin Toul received the Doctorandus award in natural sciences from the Veolia on Sunday, November 26th. The award is given to young scientists for research in natural sciences as part of the Czech Head 2023 competition. He was awarded for his research on the functions of the staphylokinase protein, which is used in the treatment of stroke. Martin Toul clarified the functioning of this protein in his work, enabling an up to tenfold increase in its effectiveness in treatment.

Martin Toul, photo: Irina Matusevic, source: Masaryk University

The Czech Head, the most prestigious scientific award presented to scientists in our country for their patents and discoveries, has announced the winners for the year 2023. One of the awardees is Martin Toul, who, as part of the team of Protein Engineering and the Loschmidt Laboratories at Masaryk University, focused on the functioning of enzymes at the molecular level. He explored their greatest limitations and how this knowledge could be utilized to improve and practically apply them in industry or medicine.

Martin received the award at the ceremonial gala evening. If you missed the broadcast on Sunday, November 26, 2023, on ČT2, you can watch it later on the Czech Television iVysílání.

Enzymes, molecular machines with catalytic activity, play a crucial role in all living cells, facilitating essential chemical transformations for life, such as digestion, respiration, or muscle contraction. Nowadays, enzymes find broad applications in biotechnology, synthesizing pure drugs, being part of laundry detergents, or serving as biosensors and modern medicines. However, the efficiency of enzymes often falls far from the expected optimum for industrial and medical applications, reducing their effectiveness and broader use. In his research under the guidance of Prof. Zbyněk Prokop and Prof. Jiří Damborský, Martin Toul focused on the detailed characterization of enzymes and uncovering the molecular basis of their inefficiency and limitations. Thanks to this knowledge, enzymes could be improved through so-called protein engineering, addressing all the mentioned pressing issues.

The laureates of this year’s Czech Head were selected from dozens of nominations by an expert jury composed of leading Czech scientists, including the emeritus rector of VŠE, Richard Hindls, psychiatrist Cyril Höschl, neurosurgeon Vladimír Beneš, and others. The winners of this 22nd edition were introduced at a press conference on Friday, November 24. A comprehensive overview of all awardees can be found HERE.