The Contemporary Chemistry Lecture Series Draws Attention to Science in Olomouc and its Success

‘Science in Olomouc 2019’ is the primary focus of the lecture series called Contemporary Chemistry, which has been overseen by Pavel Hobza, a highly cited chemist and Česká hlava 2008 honoree, for 14 years already. During the course of this lecture series, which is available for both academics and the general public, the audience may choose from four different speakers. Jaroslav Doležel, a plant geneticist; Radek Zbořil, a physical chemist; Marián Hajdúch, an expert on pharmaceutical research and molecular oncology; and Pavel Šaradín, a political scientist, will tackle issues related to their area this time round.

While it was mostly guest speakers from outside the university who delivered their talks previously, this year entirely depends on personalities based at the university. Pavel Hobza became particularly inspired by a TV programme Věda 24, Česká televize, which recently reviewed the most outstanding scientific results of 2018. “The series of 12 greatest achievements involved two results from Olomouc. The first one was related to the research into bacterial resistance to silver nanoparticles conducted by Professor Zbořil, the second one to decoding the wheat genome towards which Czech scientist led by Professor Doležel had contributed. The content of the programme was another evidence that the scientific performance in Olomouc is exceptional. I realized that this is exactly what I need to draw attention to,” said Pavel Hobza, explaining how he came up with the idea for this year’s series. Another issue that played its role in creating the concept for this year is the vision of three research centres—Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials (RCPTM), Centre of the Region Haná (CRH), and Institute of Molecular and Translational Medicine (IMTM)—integrating into a new institute. Three of the four speakers are based at each of the above-mentioned centres.

On February 20, the series will start off with a talk given by Jaroslav Doležel, CRH Scientific Director and Česká hlava 2018 honoree. Jaroslav Doležel is a professor of molecular biology and genetics. He focuses on the structure and evolution of plant genomes as well as mapping and sequencing crop genomes. Together with his team, he significantly contributed towards decoding the genome of barley, banana, or wheat.  In his lecture, he will deal with plant genetics and its decoding.

The RCPTM General Director Radek Zbořil is a world-renowned expert in nanotechnologies, as evidenced by his appearing on the Highly Cited Researchers 2018 list. On March 6, his lecture will introduce the audience to carbon nanostructures—the world of multiple dimensions and possibilities. Research into carbon and metal nanomaterials and their use in biomedicine, catalysis, environmental technologies, or modern technologies for gaining and storing energy holds a dominant position in his work. He was behind the discovery of the thinnest insulator known to date or carbon-based non-metallic magnets.

Marián Hajdúch, the IMTM Director, will present a talk named Translational Research in Medicine: From Molecules to New Pharmaceuticals and Diagnostics on March 20. His team contributed to the great success achieved in fighting cystic fibrosis. In collaboration with their Canadian colleagues, Marián Hajdúch’s team managed to develop a cure preventing the infection of which patients diagnosed with cystic fibrosis often die.

Similarly to previous years, this year’s series will not exclude humanities either. On March 27, Pavel Šaradín from the Faculty of Arts will finish off the whole cycles with a lecture called Citizens, elites versus democracy. “Talking about elites is popular. Pražská kavárna may serve as a good example. This issue is being more and more discussed. I sometimes think about the roles some prominent personalities play in societies to which Gaussian curve could be applied. Therefore, I have invited Pavel Šaradín to comment on it,” said Hobza.

All the lectures will take place in the assembly hall at the Faculty of Science, beginning at 3 p.m. Videos will be available on the official website of the Department of Physical Chemistry: