Professor Grzegorz Węgrzyn from UG received Vebleo Scientist Award

Prof. dr hab. Grzegorz Węgrzyn.

The outstanding molecular biologist from the Faculty of Biology of the University of Gdańsk, prof. dr hab. Grzegorz Węgrzyn, received Vebleo Scientist Award. The prestigious award recognizes his immense contribution to science, specifically to molecular biology.

Vebleo prizes are awarded to the researchers and scientists from all across the globe who are making a noteworthy contribution to the progression of their field and have been accredited with outstanding accomplishments, in doing so having an encouraging inspiration across the globe. The award is a honor to the awardees who have showed the dedication to science for progress of humanity. Serving as a cause of encouragement, the awards help to raise the accomplished persons profile.

The award winner, prof. dr hab. Grzegorz Węgrzyn, served as Dean of Faculty of Biology, Geography and Oceanology UG from 2002-2008 and Vice Rector for Science at the University of Gdańsk from 2008-2016. Since 1996 he has been the Head of Department of Molecular Biology at the University of Gdańsk and since 2019 also a Chairman of the Council of Scientific Excellence (Pol. RDN).

Professor Węgrzyn has been a Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN) Correspondent Member since 2010, and currently holds the position of Chairman of the Committee of Cell Biology PAN. He researches molecular biology, genetic diseases and genetics of bacteria and bacteriophages. Professor Węgrzyn has headed a team of researchers who devised the first effective treatment method for the Sanfilippo syndrome, making it possible to stop the disease’s destructive process. He is also winner of numerous scientific awards, including scholarship form the Foundation for Polish Science for Outstanding Young Scientists, four time recipient of J.K.Parnas' Prize of Polish Biochemical Society, Award of the Minister of National Education, Award of the Prime Minister, awards of Polish Genetics Society, Professor Subsidy of the Foundation for Polish Science, Jan Hevelius Award – Scientific Award of the City of Gdańsk and many more. He has been decorated with Polish Commission of National Education Medal and Gold Cross of Merit.

- It is nice when somebody appreciates our work, however for me the awards themselves are not the most important – research and its results are the priority for me, learning the world and mechanisms of organisms functioning and ways our knowledge might be used in various aspects to the benefit of people; in my case developing new therapies and using organisms in biotechnology etc. If anyone recognizes this research as significant contribution to the development of science, even better then, nonetheless awards have never been a goal in itself for me. Lately, when discussing similar matters with my team members, my younger coworkers determined that all the work I do is purely for science, not for any personal, specific gain, like an award. This is how I am and probably that is not going to change. I would like to stress that, although the award I received is officially individual, it is a credit to the whole team working with me – it is thus not only recognition of my work, but of all scientists I have had a pleasure conducting research with – says Professor Grzegorz Węgrzyn, Head of Department of Molecular Biology at the Faculty of Biology of the University of Gdańsk.

- Prof. dr hab. Grzegorz Węgrzyn has been the originator of using genistein as medication for Sanfilippo syndrome, the rare metabolism disorder. Later, he expanded this research to another nervous system disease, namely Huntington disease. We as a team decided to further continue with this subject. Having established cooperation with Department of Animal and Human Physiology UG we have researched using genistein for Alzheimer’s disease based on rat model. Successfully, under the supervision of Professor Węgrzyn I initiated research on using genistein to treat Huntington disease. This project received National Science Center’s Preludium grant, which we are currently carrying out. This research, together with researching genistein for Alzheimer’s disease, constituted the basis for my doctoral dissertation. Genistein, provided we encounter no difficulties, has major chance to become the medication for above mentioned diseases, and its mechanism of action made us hypothesize about its effectiveness for multiple different diseases, including the rare ones. That way, by enlarging target group of patients, we have the opportunity to draw interest from pharmaceutical companies – adds dr Karolina Pierzynowska from the Department of Molecular Biology UG.

- The use of genistein as potential treatment method has been researched for almost 20 years now. It is a great example showing how laborious the process of developing effective medicine actually is – from mechanism of action, through health safety, up to confirming its effectiveness. In this case we deal with the extraordinary compound, acting dually, but more importantly with the extraordinary scientist, working simultaneously on multiple diseases (mucopolysaccharidosis, Huntington and Alzheimer’s diseases). I am convinced he has not said his final word yet. I have joined the research relatively recently, a couple years back, but I believe I am saying the truth by saying that the entire team contributed to the award received by Professor Węgrzyn. Taking all of the above into consideration, I feel honored to be a part of this team, led by prof. dr hab. Grzegorz Węgrzyn enabling such efficient work, I consider his recognition fully merited – summarizes mgr Lidia Gaffke from the Department of Molecular Biology UG (the researcher has recently defended her doctoral thesis and waits for confirmation of her degree)

Vebleo program tries to recognize eminent contributors to the progress of science and to acknowledge their profound activities. Vebleo tries to acknowledge individuals whose effort has already had a major impact in the field, researchers who are outstanding champions of their field and young researchers who are already on top by their efforts for future leadership. Not only do they honor the awardees, they also believe that by highlighting these leaders and their creative work, they will develop the awareness of the range and advancement of research across the globe.

More info:

Vebleo Nano Innovation Award

Vebleo Fellow

Vebleo Innovation Award

Vebleo Scientist Award


Press Office of University of Gdańsk