The winners of the Scientist of the Year 2021 award are known. Young Researcher is Dr. Lucia Balážová

Ocenená Mladá vedecká pracovníčka v rámci Vedca roka 2021

Organisers of the event, The Centre of Scientific and Technical Information of the Slovak Republic, the Slovak Academy of Sciences and the Association of Slovak Scientific and Technological Societies have announced the 25nd annual of awarding leading Slovak scientists, young researchers, innovators, technologists and personalites of international cooperation from all fields of science and technology – the Scientist of the Year 2021. The event was held under the auspices of Minister of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic Branislav Gröhling and the President of Slovak Republic Zuzana Čaputová.

The award in the category Young Researcher 2021 received Dr. Lucia Balážová from Biomedical Research Center of the Slovak Academy of Sciences for the identification and description of the GPR180 receptor and its ligand CTHRC1, as new components of the TGFβ signaling pathway that regulate the activity of brown fat cells and glucose metabolism. The results of the work were published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature Communications.

„I would like to thank to all my collegues from Biomedical Research Center of the Slovak Academy of Sciences as well as from ETH Zürich for friendly atmosphere, creative environment and inspiring discussions. I want to point out that this award also belongs to them since scientific outcomes are always result of work of the whole research  team,“ said Dr. Balážová.

Mgr. Lucia Balážová, PhD., studied animal physiology at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Comenius University Bratislava (PriF UK) in Bratislava at the master’s and doctoral level of education. She carried out her research activities in the field of energy metabolism at the Institute of Experimental Endocrinology of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava (SAS). After completing her doctoral studies at PriF UK in Bratislava, she worked for 6 years as a postdoctoral fellow at the renowned Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland. While working in Professor Christian Wolfrum’s team, she stayed in contact with Slovak colleagues and thereby improved the exchange of information in the given scientific field. After returning to Slovakia, she received the SASPRO2 fellowship, thanks to which she will continue in research of the GPR180 receptor from the perspective of pancreas physiology and pathogenesis of diabetes at the Biomedical Research Center of the Slovak Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Balazova is a talented young scientist with an enthusiasm for metabolic research. The results of her research aimed at uncovering alternative methods of brown fat activation as an effective treatment for metabolic diseases, especially obesity and diabetes, were published in the journal Nature Communications. In collaboration with clinical partners, she identified and de-orphanized a so far unknown receptor GPR180, which was incorrectly classified as G protein-coupled receptor. Another important finding is the discovery of the adipokine CTHRC1 as a ligand binding to the GPR180 receptor. This alternative pathway fine-tunes TGFβ signalling to reach physiological level of its activation thereby preventing a pathological response. The results of this study extend far beyond the field of adipose tissue research based on  the endocrine nature of CTHRC1, the whole body expression of GPR180 and the integration of these molecules into TGFβ signaling, which is a important regulator of many physiological processes in the human body.

The main award, Scientist of the Year 2021, was given to PaedDr. Pavol Prokop, DrSc., from the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Comenius University Bratislava; Professor Tomáš Brestovič from the Technical University in Košice became Innovator of the Year; Professor Michal Hatala from the Technical University in Košice was named Technologist of the Year;  and by the title “Personality of international cooperation” was awarded Associate Professor Ladislav Hluchý from the Slovak Academy of Sciences.


The purpose of the Scientist of the Year award is to professionally and socially highlight the most notable personalities of scientific sphere, as well to promote the best scientific outcomes of Slovakia.


Translated by: BMC SAS (Slovak version)
Photo: CVTI SR, Zelenák, Marián, Mgr.