On 28 March 2023 the opening ceremony of three Dioscuri Centres of Scientific Excellence was held at the Jagiellonian University. Three Polish-born scientists, previously working in Germany, Switzerland and the USA, are returning to Poland thanks to support from the Polish-German funding within the framework of the Dioscuri Programme.
Led by two life scientists and a mathematician, the new groups join five already established Dioscuri Centres of Scientific excellence conducting cutting-edge basic research at various Warsaw-based institutions. As part of the programme, the following scientists will run their projects at the Jagiellonian University:
- Dr Przemysław Nogły, leader of the Dioscuri Centre for Structural Dynamics and Receptors
- Dr Mateusz Sikora, leader of the Dioscuri Centre for Modelling of Posttranslational Modifications,
- Dr Mikołaj Frączyk, leader of the Dioscuri Centre in Random Walks in Geometry and Topology
“These are exactly the kind of talents and research topics that we had in mind when launching the programme here in Krakow back in 2017. We need to foster healthy brain circulation between all European countries if we want to create an attractive, united and successful European Research Area”, says Prof. Martin Stratmann, President of the Max Planck Society and initiator of the Dioscuri Programme.
"For many years, the Jagiellonian University has been systematically improving the quality of research, especially promoting its interdisciplinary dimension and developing international cooperation. Thanks to these efforts, the University is becoming increasingly recognised in the global scientific community, and the Dioscuri Centres will certainly add to its prestige", comments Prof. Piotr Kuśtrowski, JU Vice-Rector for Research.
The opening ceremony of the new Dioscuri Centres, held in Collegium Novum Assembly Hall was attended by about one hundred participants from a number of research institutions, as well as members of local authorities and diplomatic corps. On behalf of the JU Rector Prof. Jacek Popiel, who could not participate in the ceremony, the welcome address was delivered by the JU Vice-Rector for the Medical College Prof. Tomasz Grodzicki. The main part of the ceremony was chaired by the JU Vice-Rector for Research Prof. Piotr Kuśtrowski.
“Even within the very dynamic and broad cooperation that we have between Poland ad Germany it is not everyday that we can celebrate the start of such an extraordinary project”, stressed the Ambassador of Germany to Poland Dr Thomas Bagger, while the President of the Max Planck Society Prof. Martin Stratmann pointed out that the Jagiellonian University is very well prepared to host the Dioscuri Centres. “In our latest call it just so happened that the three best qualified candidates with the most innovative research proposals all applied to established their research centres at the Jagiellonian University. This is not surprising, given the excellent reputation and the recent investments in infrastructure at this famous institution”, said Prof. Stratmann.
The Leaders of newly established Dioscuri centres were briefly introduced by the Deputy Chair of the Dioscuri Committee Prof. Sir Leszek Borysiewicz. More information about their research projects was presented by the Leaders themselves. The event also featured the lecture by prof. Brenda Schulman from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, entitled Supramolecular assembly as a master regulator of enzyme activity.
Background: The Dioscuri Programme
The Dioscuri Programme, which was initiated by the Max Planck Society, aims to establish internationally competitive research groups in Central and Eastern Europe. Each of the Dioscuri Centres is financed with up to 1.5 million euros for a period of five years. The programme is run jointly by the Max Planck Society (Germany) and the National Science Centre (Poland) The costs are shared equally between the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Polish Ministry of Education and Science, while the host institutions in Poland provide the necessary infrastructure. After its successful start in Poland, the programme has recently been extended to the Czech Republic.
“Our goal is a more balanced distribution of scientific excellence throughout Europe. We are grateful that the Max Planck Society as one of Europe’s leading research organizations supports the Polish science in unlocking its full potential”, says the Director of the National Science Centre Prof. Zbigniew Błocki.“With Dioscuri, Poland and Germany have created something unique to counteract the brain drain from Central Europe in a novel bilateral framework. This is of utmost importance since without qualified and intelligent scientists solving the problems of the future will not be possible – be they climate change, energy crisis or other challenges”, remarks the Ambassador of Germany to Poland Prof. Thomas Bagger.