Press Release - University of Cyprus awards the first Marie Curie Prizes during the Presidency Conference
06.11.2012, 16:32 (CET)
The potential of the Marie Curie Actions and ways in which they can contribute to the “Europe 2020” Strategy objectives, along with their international dimension were the focus of discussions during the Cyprus Presidency’s “Marie Curie PEOPLE 2012” Conference. During the conference, which was held at the University of Cyprus Campus between November 5 and 6, participants also discussed issues of research and mobility and specifically their financing at an EU level.

In honour of Marie Curie, who was honoured twice with the Nobel Prize, the first award ceremony of the Marie Curie prizes for young researchers was held at the University of Cyprus yesterday, in the presence of her grandson and internationally distinguished scientists.

The award ceremony took place during the opening ceremony of the Marie Curie PEOPLE 2012 international conference , which had the mobility of researches as its main subject. The Conference was organized by the University of Cyprus and was part of the program of the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the European Union. 

The winners

The competition’s three winners were awarded by Ms. Marie Curie’s grandson Dr. Pierre Joliot Curie, and by the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Mrs Androulla Vassiliou and the members of the jury committee.

The winners of the Marie Curie prizes are the following:

  • Dr. Claire Belcher, was awarded in the category of Communicating Science.  Dr. Belcher is a Marie Curie scholar at University College in Dublin, Ireland and at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.  Dr. Belcher is a Lecturer of Earth System Science at the University of Exeter in the UK.  The aim of her research is to a attain an increased awareness of how events which have brought about changes on our planet, have affected the earth system, and incorporates the results of modern experimental peak methods in projects about the geological past of the earth.
  • Dr. Sarit Sivan, was awarded in the category of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.  She is a Marie Curie scholar at Oxford University and she is a Senior Researcher at the Institute of Technology Technion-Israel, in the domain of Biomedical Engineering.  During her scholarship she worked on finding a treatment for lumbago (low back pain), which is mainly caused by the degeneration of the middle vertebra disc due to loss of aggrecan, which is one of the key ingredients of discs.  Dr. Sivan developed an osmotically active biomimetic version of aggrecan which helps restore the biomechanical function of the damaged discs.  Her professional contribution led to a newly established company which carries out clinical studies.
  • Dr. Kikas Mayiorkinis, was awarded in the category of Most Talented Promising Researcher. Dr. Mayiorkinis is a scholar researcher in the department of Zoology and at the Emanoel Lee JRF at St Cross College, institutions which both belong to the Oxford University.  He is an honorary lecturer and consultant in virology in the Department of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Medical Statistics of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.  At the moment, Dr. Mayiorkinis is working on Human Endogenous Retroviruses, as well as on the molecular epidemiology of the human viruses (HIV, HCV) having been funded by the Wellcome Trust and the European Union.

“Research can drive us out of the crisis”

In welcoming the Conference, Commissioner Vassiliou stressed the importance of Science and Research and added: "We have created this new Competition to promote excellence and talent among the best young researchers in Europe.” Commissioner Vassiliou congratulated the three winners for their scientific contribution to their area of expertise.

The Minister of Education and Culture, Mr. George Demosthenous stressed that in times of economic crisis, effective investments in research and innovation is the main way out of the crisis, since they will stimulate economic growth, enhance levels of employment and develop European competitiveness.  “Such initiatives, like the Marie Curie Prize competition is truly a step towards the right direction”, he added. 

The Rector of the University of Cyprus, Professor Constantinos Christofides, welcomed the delegates at the University and stressed that in times of uncertainty, our primary goals should be to provide good education, attain experience and increase the levels of employment.. With this in mind, Professor Christofides  characterised the Marie Curie Program as a remarkable initiative, which places young researchers at the forefront of scientific developments.

“The Programme provides an exceptional, valuable opportunity which offers researchers the possibility to broaden their horizons, share their knowledge and construct bridges of cooperation.  Moreover, it helps them mature and develop both professionally and personally.  The next generation of young brilliant scientists will encounter a unique challenge: to inspire and attract the brightest minds of the next generation in order to invest in research and innovation.  The Rector concluded by saying that “this change of mentality is a great achievement which we owe to the Marie Curie Program”.

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