News

16 June 2021

The Third Arqus Rectors’ Council Meeting Was Chaired by VU Rector Rimvydas Petrauskas

Following the last meeting in November 2020, the rectors of the seven Arqus universities have come together once again in an on-line meeting to take stock of the first period...

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9 June 2021

Record-High VU Position: University Makes it to the Top 400 World Universities

In the latest QS World University Rankings 2022, Vilnius University (VU) took a record high position and for the first time, ranked 400th in this ranking. This is also the highest...

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7 June 2021

VU Will Contribute to the Development of a Regional Life Sciences Strategy in the A4L_ACTIONS Project

The kick-off conference of the H2020 project A4L_ACTIONS, connecting twelve members from the strategic partnership called Alliance4Life, took place on 25 May. This event opened the continuation of the previously...

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31 May 2021

Partnership Institute employee Selection based on the Highest Standards and the Application of best Practices

The Partnership Institute of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), which will focus on developing gene editing technologies, will soon start operating at the Life Sciences Centre of Vilnius University...

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27 May 2021

Stress Beneficial in all Situations Requiring Prompt and Effective Action – VU Psychologist

The pace of life and the environment we live in in this day age make it nearly impossible to live completely stress-free. However, Vilnius University (VU) psychologist Inga Truskauskaitė-Kunevičienė points...

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26 May 2021

Showing the Human Face Behind Academic Titles: Portraits of VU Lecturers by Morozovas

This May, Vilnius University (VU) presented an artistic project in the form of a portrait gallery of its lecturers, featuring works by the documentary Artūras Morozovas in close cooperation with...

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One more step towards the Nobel Prize: VU professor received the prestigious Kavli Prize

VU Siksnys

Vilnius University (VU) professor Virginijus Šikšnys was awarded the prestigious Kavli prize for his discovery of the CRISPR-Cas9, a revolutionary DNA editing tool. The prize, which includes 1 million dollars, is rewarded every two years.

The Kavli Prize in Nanoscience will be shared between prof. V. Šikšnys and two other scientists, who also work on improving the CRISPR-Cas9 technology: Emmanuelle Charpentier from Max Planck Society, and Jennifer Doudna from University of California, Berkeley.

V. Šikšnys says that the call from the president of The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, announcing that he will be awarded with the Kavli prize, was a surprise. However, the scientist thinks that this technology is worth the recognition it is currently receiving.

„A reward of this scale means quite a lot, we are very happy. The fact that our team achieved this is also a huge praise for the whole science community in Lithuania. However, most importantly, this technology will allow us to cure the most complicated hereditary genetic diseases, find a better solution for organ transplants, as well as create plants that are immune to cold or heat. This technology will not only cure diseases or save human lives. It will open up new opportunities in various fields of life sciences, and the possibility to actually apply it in solving real-world issues is only a matter of time”, says prof. V. Šikšnys.

Revolution in Life Sciences

The latest research on genome editing, conducted by prof. V. Šikšnys and his team (Giedrius Gasiūnas and Tautvydas Karvelis), took the science community by storm.

After the team, led by one of the most famous CRISPR-Cas9 researchers in the world, discovered how this virus functions, it became clear that this is a universal method for editing genes in various organisms.

According to prof. V. Šikšnys, CRISPR-Cas9 is a type of molecular scissors that can be used to cut defective parts of the human DNA – and it means a revolution in life sciences is about to begin. V. Šikšnys has also received the prestigious Harvard’s Warren Alpert Foundation Prize for the same discovery two years ago. It is worth mentioning, that almost fifth of the Warren Alpert Prize laureates later also received a Nobel Prize.

“CRISPR-Cas9 is a breakthrough nanotool that will considerably enhance our understanding of genetic mechanisms. This great invention confers to society enormous capabilities for positive innovations,” says Arne Brataas, head of the Kavli nanoscience prize committee.

Researchers hope that this technology will allow to cure AIDS, Down syndrome, and hereditary heart diseases. It is also likely to improve agriculture: the invention is already being used in the development of new plant species that are immune to draughts and other unfavourable conditions.

Winners picked by the science elite

The Kavli Prize is established in partnership between The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, The Kavli Foundation (United States), and The Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research.

The Kavli Prize recognizes scientists for pioneering advances in human understanding of existence at its biggest, smallest, and most complex scales. Presented every two years in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience, each of three international prizes consists of 1 million US dollars.

Committees, whose members are recommended by six of the world’s most renowned science societies and academies, choose laureates. The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters appoints the three prize committees after receiving recommendations from international academies and equivalent scientific organizations: The Chinese Academy of Science, The French Academy of Sciences, The Max Planck Society (Germany), The National Academy of Sciences (US), The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and The Royal Society (UK).

The prize committees review the nominated candidates and submit their recommendations to the board of The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. The President of the Academy announces the prize winners.

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