The Neuron Prize Goes to World-Renowned Computational Chemist, Pavel Hobza
The Neuron Prize in Chemistry was awarded on Sunday, October 16, to Professor Pavel Hobza, the discoverer of a new type of hydrogen bond and one of the world’s most influential scientists in the field of computational chemistry. The Neuron foundation awarded his life-long contribution to the field of chemistry, which has benefitted world research. In addition to his work at the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Professor Hobza also belongs to CATRIN’s scientific backbone.
“In general, there are very few awards for science in the Czech Republic. Yet each one is significant because it is also important information for the public about the state and position of Czech science. Such a prize does not intend to flatter the vanity of the researcher, yet it’s enjoyable, but it is primarily awarded to publicly recognize the researcher’s achievement,” said Hobza, who is one of the most important Czech scientists of the turn of the century.
“Pavel Hobza is without a doubt one of the most inspiring scientific personalities and moral authorities I have ever met in my life. I am very proud that he became the first employee of CATRIN in 2020 and I am even more pleased that he still has the energy and strength to work scientifically,” said the CATRIN director, Pavel Banáš.
The fresh laureate of the Neuron Prize received worldwide recognition for the discovery of a new type of hydrogen bond that helps to explain the structure of biomolecules. He and his colleagues developed new scoring functions based on quantum mechanics that allow predicting the efficacy of new drugs. His work contributed to understanding the interactions of biological systems, which he moved from theory to practical observation: he described and imaged the so-called sigma-holes that create a positive charge in a halogen atom and that allow molecules to bind to each other, although they, theoretically, should not. This is an important shift not only for the basic understanding of how atoms in molecules bind to each other, but also for practical materials chemistry.
“Pavel is the best chemist I have ever known in my professional life. Moreover, he is the most dogged scientist I know. He can sense a strong topic, dive into it and bring it to a fundamental discovery. I wish him this success from the bottom of my heart and I am glad that I can cooperate with him not only in the framework of the joint EXPRO project,” said Radek Zbořil, Scientific Director of CATRIN-RCPTM.
Michal Otyepka, the Head of CATRIN–RCPTM, is also pleased with the recognition of his long-standing and systematic work in the field of non-covalent interactions. “Moreover, Professor Hobza is not only a scientific role model for me, whose career shows that the path of science can be difficult and that a scientist must not give up, but also a moral role model that has not sold out to the communist regime, even though his life would have been much easier,” he said.
Professor Hobza’s scientific results have been published in the world’s top journals, which include Science or journals belonging to the Nature Family. He has repeatedly featured in the prestigious Highly Cited Researchers list.