Leibniz Prizes 2021: DFG awards 4 female and 6 male scientists

The most recent receivers of the most prominent research study financing reward in Germany have actually been revealed: the Joint Committee of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research study Structure) today granted the 2021 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Reward to 4 woman and 6 male scientists. They had actually formerly been chosen from 131 candidates by the choice committee accountable. Of the 10 prizewinners, there are 2 each from the liberal arts and social sciences, the lives sciences and the engineering sciences, and 4 from the life sciences. Each will get cash prize of EUR2.5 million. They are entitled to utilize these funds for their research study operate in any method they want, without administrative barriers, for as much as 7 years. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Joint Committee fulfilled by video conference. The Leibniz Prizes 2021 will be granted practically on 15 March.

The following scientists will get the 2020 “Financing Reward in the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Program” granted by the DFG: .

  • Dr. Asifa Akhtar, Epigenetics, Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics, Freiburg .
  • Teacher Dr. Elisabeth André, Computer Technology, University of Augsburg .
  • Teacher Dr. Giuseppe Caire, Theoretical Communications Engineering, Berlin Institute of Innovation .
  • Teacher Dr. Nico Eisenhauer, Biodiversity Research Study, University of Leipzig .(* )Teacher Dr. Veronika Eyring, Earth System Modelling, German Aerospace Center, Oberpfaffenhofen website and University of Bremen .
  • Teacher Dr. Katerina Harvati-Papatheodorou, Palaeoanthropology, Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen and Senckenberg Centre for Human Advancement and Palaeoenvironment, Tübingen .
  • Teacher Dr. Steffen Mau, Sociology, Humboldt University
    Berlin .
  • Teacher Dr. Rolf Müller, Pharmaceutical Biology, Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Study and Saarland University, Saarbrücken .
  • Teacher Dr. Jürgen Ruland, Immunology, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technical University of Munich .
  • Teacher Dr. Volker Springel, Astrophysics, Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Garching
  • The Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Reward has actually been granted yearly by the DFG given that 1986. Approximately 10 rewards can be granted annually, each with cash prize of EUR2.5 million. Consisting of the 10 rewards in 2021, an overall of 388 Leibniz Prizes have actually been granted to date. Of these, 123 have actually gone to the lives sciences, 113 to the life sciences, 91 to the liberal arts and social sciences and 61 to the engineering sciences. As the reward and cash prize can be shared in remarkable cases, there have actually been more award receivers than there have rewards. An overall of 415 candidates have actually gotten the award to date, consisting of 353 male scientists and 62 female scientists.

2 Leibniz Reward winners and 7 Leibniz Reward laureates have actually likewise gotten the Nobel Reward after being granted the most essential research study financing reward in Germany: 1988 Teacher Dr. Hartmut Michel (Chemistry), 1991 Teacher Dr. Erwin Neher and Teacher Dr. Bert Sakmann (both Medication), 1995 Teacher Dr. Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (Medication), 2005 Teacher Dr. Theodor W. Hänsch (Physics), 2007 Teacher Dr. Gerhard Ertl (Chemistry), 2014 Teacher Dr. Stefan W. Hell (Chemistry) and 2020 Teacher Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier (Chemistry) and Teacher Dr. Reinhard Genzel (Physics).

A quick picture of the 2021 Leibniz prizewinners:

Dr. Asifa Akhtar (49 ), Epigenetics, Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics, Freiburg


Asifa Akhtar gets the Leibniz Reward for her cell biology deal with systems of epigenetic gene guideline. With this work she has actually made a cutting-edge contribution to the understanding of X-chromosome guideline, likewise called “dosage settlement”. This is a system that makes sure that the genes of the X chromosome are produced in equivalent strength in the male and female sex. To name a few things, Akhtar had the ability to illuminate the molecular system that manages the various function of MOF (males-absent on the very first protein) histone acetyltransferases on the X chromosome and the autosomes. Akhtar even more identified that MOFs are likewise associated with other procedures of managing the genome. These findings are essential to comprehending developmental and pathological procedures such as cancer. More just recently, Akhtar found that, in addition to their function in managing gene expression in the nucleus, MOFs are likewise critical in managing genes in mitochondria. This describes for the very first time how epigenetic gene expression is collaborated in between the nucleus and mitochondria based upon cellular metabolic process.

Asifa Akhtar got her PhD from the Imperial Cancer Research Study Fund in London in 1997. She continued her research study at the European Molecular Biology Lab in Heidelberg, where – after an interim duration at LMU Munich – she headed a Research study Group from 2001 to 2009. She then transferred to limit Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg, where she was designated Director of the Department of Chromatin Policy in 2013. Akhtar has actually belonged to the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina given that 2019.

Teacher Dr. Elisabeth André (59 ), Computer Technology, University of Augsburg

.(* )The Leibniz Reward is granted to Elisabeth André for developing the research study field of conversational psychological representatives in the field of expert system. It lays the structures for future AI systems to be able to act in a more human-centred way. In her doctoral thesis, André currently handled spoken and non-verbal signals for human-machine interaction. Moreover, she devoted herself early on to the present subject of rely on human-machine interaction, developed discomfort acknowledgment as an appropriate ability for machine-learning-based health help and attended to concerns concerning the approval of the autonomy of devices. With the advancement of the open-source structure SSI (Social Signal Analysis) for taping and evaluating multimodal signals such as eye motion, speech and gestures, André has actually lastly been successful in making a contribution that goes far beyond computer technology. Today, SSI is utilized around the world for a variety of jobs, for instance to provide robotics or virtual characters the capability to acknowledge and respond to a person’s feelings.

Elisabeth André got her doctorate in computer technology from Saarland University in 1995. She formerly headed numerous tasks at the German Proving Ground for Expert System in Saarbrücken. In 2001, she accepted a visit to the Chair of Multimodal Human-Technology Interaction at the then freshly developed Institute of Computer technology at the University of Augsburg. André was a DFG evaluation board member from 2008 to 2012 and has actually belonged to the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina given that 2010. In 2019, the Gesellschaft für Informatik (German Informatics Society) picked her as one of the “10 developmental minds in German AI history”.

Teacher Dr. Giuseppe Caire (55 ), Theoretical Communications Engineering, Berlin Institute of Innovation


Giuseppe Caire gets the Leibniz Reward for developing necessary computer technology structures in the field of contemporary cordless interaction and infotech. To name a few things, he has actually established the theoretical basis for optimising unique modulation treatments (Bi-Interleaved Coded Modulation, BICM), that make it possible to decipher messages from a transmitter that run over a loud channel practically without mistake at the receiver. These approaches are basic in cordless interaction today. His current deal with dispersed caching systems, in which details is saved at numerous places separated from each other, has actually produced totally results that are totally brand-new in the field of details theory. Innovation transfer is likewise among Caire’s locations of interest: to name a few things, he co-founded SpaceMUX, a Silicon Valley start-up that has actually established innovations for cordless networks in business.

After getting his doctorate from the Politecnico di Torino in Italy in 1994, Giuseppe Caire’s profession phases have actually consisted of work at the European Area Company in the Netherlands and a visit as an associate teacher at the University of Parma. He was a teacher at the Institut Eurécom in Sophia Antipolis, France, from 1998 to 2005, and a teacher at the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California from 2005 to 2016. In 2014, Caire ended up being an Alexander von Humboldt Teacher at Berlin Institute of Innovation and has actually held the position of Teacher of Theoretical Structures of Interaction Innovation there since. In 2018 he got an ERC Advanced Grant.

Teacher Dr. Nico Eisenhauer (40 ), Biodiversity Research Study, University of Leipzig

.(* )The Leibniz Reward is granted to Nico Eisenhauer for his exceptional deal with the effect of international modification on biodiversity and community functions. He is currently among the leading researchers in his field. Eisenhauer’s research study yielded considerable advances in eco-friendly theory and an essential understanding of the practical significance of biodiversity. Eisenhauer has actually dedicated specific attention to the international circulation of soil macrofauna and mesofauna, such as earthworms and springtails, which as “soil engineers” identify the eco-friendly efficiency of soils, in addition to their interactions with microbes and plants. In this method he had the ability to substantially broaden the understanding of the interactions of plants with soil animals in addition to the microbial neighborhoods of the soil. With his additional research study work, Eisenhauer was likewise critical in setting the course for a process-based understanding of the function of biodiversity under the conditions of progressive ecological modification.

Nico Eisenhauer’s doctorate in biology at TU Darmstadt in 2008 was followed by postdoctoral durations at the universities of Göttingen, Minnesota and TU Munich. In 2012, he handled a DFG Emmy Noether Junior Research study Group and accepted a visit at the University of Jena. In 2014, he got the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Reward and was designated Teacher of Speculative Interaction Ecology at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research study (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig and the University of Leipzig. He is the representative for the “Jena Experiment” – among the most globally prominent biodiversity experiments. In 2016 he got an ERC Beginning Grant.

Teacher Dr. Veronika Eyring (52 ), Earth System Modelling, German Aerospace Center, Oberpfaffenhofen website and University of Bremen


Veronika Eyring gets the Leibniz Reward due to the fact that she has actually made a considerable contribution to enhancing the understanding and precision of environment forecasts through process-oriented modelling and design assessment. Her research study initially associated to evaluating the effect of ship emissions on climatic structure, environment and human health, and she broadened this to consist of Earth system and environment modelling. More just recently, she has actually concentrated on establishing ingenious approaches to enhance the predictive power of the designs. As part of a big global research study network, Eyring is leading the advancement of the so-called Earth System Design Examination Tool, which enables environment designs to be compared – a definitive action towards decreasing unpredictabilities in forecasts of future environment advancement. Eyring likewise contributes her findings as collaborating lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Environment Modification’s Evaluation Report on “Human Influence On the Environment System”.

Veronika Eyring got her doctorate from the University of Bremen in 1999 and habilitated there in 2008 in ecological physics as part of a Helmholtz Young Private Investigators Group. From 2000 onwards she was likewise a research study partner at the DLR Institute of Atmospheric Physics. This was followed by going to professorships and remains at the National Center for Atmospheric Research Study in Stone, U.S.A., and an honorary going to professorship at the University of Exeter, UK. In 2017, Eyring was designated collectively by the University of Bremen in combination with DLR as Teacher of Environment Modelling at the Institute of Environmental Physics. Considering that 2018, she has actually likewise headed the Earth System Design Examination and Analysis Department at DLR.

Teacher Dr. Katerina Harvati-Papatheodorou (50 ), Palaeoanthropology, Eberhard Karls University Tübingen and Senckenberg Centre for Human Advancement and Palaeoenvironment, Tübingen


Katerina Harvati-Papatheodorou is granted the Leibniz Reward for her cutting-edge findings on the development of human beings and their closest loved ones. Utilizing a mix of field research study and 3D morphometry imaging methods, she had the ability to get vital brand-new insights into the procedures of human development. In her varied research study she has actually had the ability to reveal that Neanderthals likewise had actually an extremely established behavioural collection, and this has actually essentially modified the concept of guy’s closest relative. In field research study, she has actually concentrated on the hitherto little-studied area of south-eastern Europe as a circulation path and glacial retreat location. With the aid of the approaches she established, she had the ability to show for fossil finds from Greece that these stem from a very first settlement wave of contemporary human beings (Humankind) from Africa to Europe 210,000 years earlier which the settlement history was a lot more vibrant than formerly presumed.

Katerina Harvati-Papatheodorou got her PhD in sociology from the City University of New York City in 2001 prior to relocating to limit Planck Institute for Evolutionary Sociology in Leipzig in 2004. In 2009, the University of Tübingen designated her Teacher of Palaeoanthropology. She got an ERC Beginning Grant in 2011 and an ERC Consolidator Grant in 2016. She is co-spokesperson of the DFG-funded Centre for Advanced Researches “Words, Bones, Genes, Tools: Tracking Linguistic, Cultural and Biological Trajectories of the Human Past”.

Teacher Dr. Steffen Mau (52 ), Sociology, Humboldt University Berlin

.(* )The Leibniz Reward for Steffen Mau identifies his ingenious sociological analyses of the varied social improvements that characterise our present period. In his research study, Mau has actually dedicated himself to research studies on the characteristics of social inequalities and social polarisation in addition to relative well-being state analyses and procedures of the transnationalisation and Europeanisation of social living environments. Mau constantly integrated macro-sociological structural analyses with a thick description of private and social life on a micro level. In his book “The Metric Society” (2017 ), for instance, he traced the characteristics that accompany digitalisation and explained how they associate with both old and brand-new inequalities. In his newest essay, “Lütten Klein” (2019 ), he takes a close sociological take a look at the Rostock area where he himself matured and demonstrates how ingrained the modifications were that took place in East German society after 1989.

After training as an electronic devices service technician at VEB Schiffselektronik Rostock, Steffen Mau studied sociology and government at the Free University of Berlin and got his doctorate from the European University Institute in Florence in 2001. From 2005 onwards he was at first a teacher of political sociology in Bremen, and in 2015 he accepted a visit at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Going to professorships and fellowships have actually taken him to Sciences Po in Paris and Harvard, to name a few locations. From 2012 to 2018 he belonged to the Scientific Commission of the German Council of Science.

Teacher Dr. Rolf Müller (55 ), Pharmaceutical Biology, Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Study and Saarland University, Saarbrücken


Rolf Müller is an impressive researcher in the field of natural compound research study and biomedical microbiology. Müller prospered in utilizing brand-new approaches from molecular biology and artificial biology, bioinformatics and practical genomics in drug research study, consequently adding to the battle versus antibiotic-resistant pathogens. One focus of his research study into biologically active representatives from microbes is myxobacteria living in the soil. They form a range of natural compounds, for instance to get rid of microbial rivals or opponents. Müller developed an around the world program for the discovery of brand-new myxobacterial pressures, which has actually currently caused the discovery of brand-new bacterial types, genera and households in addition to various prospects for brand-new natural substances. The natural compounds gotten, likewise called secondary metabolites, are an appropriate source of lead compounds for the advancement of brand-new rehabs.

Rolf Müller was granted his doctorate in pharmaceutical biology in Bonn in 1994 and likewise got his licence to practice drug store there. He then invested 2 years participated in research study at the University of Washington in Seattle. In 2000 he habilitated at TU Braunschweig and in 2003 accepted a professorship in Pharmaceutical Biochemistry at Saarland University. Considering that 2010, he has actually likewise been Handling Director of the freshly established Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Study Saarland there.

Teacher Dr. Jürgen Ruland (54 ), Immunology, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technical University of Munich


Jürgen Ruland is granted the Leibniz Reward for his exceptional clinical operate in the field of immunology, which has actually caused a basically brand-new understanding of signal transduction paths in immune and cancer cells. Ruland is a world-leading immunologist and oncologist who studies healthy signalling procedures in the body immune system and those that are decontrolled in illness. With his research study group, he examines how immune cells acknowledge pathogens, start immune defence and how pathologically decontrolled signals in blood cells result in the advancement of cancer. He likewise prospered in illuminating the molecular acknowledgment of fungis by the so-called dectin receptors of the body immune system and their signalling procedures. These essential findings are very important in the medical diagnosis of immunodeficiency and the treatment of oncological illness. Ruland’s work remarkably lights up how insights from pathology and oncology can lay the structures for analyzing essential systems of the physiology of the body immune system.

After finishing his doctorate in 1996 at the Institute of Pharmacology at Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Jürgen Ruland at first operated at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto. In 2003, he transferred to TU Munich as a medical and research study assistant. In 2010 he ended up being teacher and director of the freshly established Institute for Molecular Immunology there, and in 2012 director of the Institute for Medical Chemistry and Pathobiochemistry at Klinikum rechts der Isar. Considering that 2018, Ruland has actually been representative for the Collaborative Research Study Centre “Aberrant Immune Signalling in Cancer”. He got an ERC Advanced Grant in 2013 and 2019.

Teacher Dr. Volker Springel (50 ), Astrophysics, Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Garching


Volker Springel gets the Leibniz Reward for his cutting-edge operate in the field of mathematical astrophysics. He established brand-new mathematical approaches that have actually significantly raised the requirement of accuracy in this field of research study. This has actually caused a development in comprehending how the manifold-structured universes emerged from an early, practically consistent universe. Springel has actually examined lots of elements of non-linear structure development, and in specific the important function that feedback procedures play in the development of galaxies and their main great voids. In other words, his work has actually revealed that galaxy development is a self-regulating procedure. A number of the observed residential or commercial properties of galaxies are an effect of this feedback within the present requirement on the origin of cosmic structures, the “cold dark matter” paradigm.

After finishing his doctorate in astrophysics at LMU Munich in 2000, Volker Springel went to Harvard as a postdoctoral scientist prior to holding numerous positions at limit Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching from 2001 onwards. He denied calls to Cambridge and Harvard in 2009 and chose to accept a professorship at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Research Studies (HITS) as one of the founding group leaders. In 2018, he went back to the MPI in Garching as Director. Springel has actually been granted the Otto Hahn Medal, the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Reward and the Gruber Reward for Cosmology. He has actually belonged to the Leopoldina given that 2016.


More Details


Consultation notification: . The Leibniz Prizes will be granted practically on 15 March 2021. Information of the time and occasion format will follow in due course. The media will get a different invite.

Media contact: .(* )DFG Press and Public Relations, Tel. +49 228 885-2109,(* )Contact at the DFG Head Workplace: .

Annette Lessenich
, Academic Awards, Tel. +49 228 885-2835,

More details on the 2021 award winners will be readily available from the DFG’s Press and Public Relations workplace from the start of the brand-new year or at

Comprehensive details on the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Program can be discovered at: .



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