Dr. Botond Roska, world-renowned neurologist, researcher in Switzerland and alumnus of Semmelweis University was awarded with the Körber Prize, one of the most significant scientific awards in Europe.

The Körber European Science Prize is presented annually by the Körber Foundation, honouring one European scientist every year. The prize winners receive one million euro prize money. According to his laudation, the work of the Hungarian scientist has brought a revolutionary change in ophthalmology. Dr. Botond Roska started his work aiming to explore the mechanism of vision 20 years ago when no one was dealing with this topic yet. Today, more and more research are being conducted in this field. He and his research group were the first to identify, how the different types cells in the visual system extract visual information from the environment.

One of the scientist’s main research areas is gene therapy studies focusing on vision restoration gene therapy.

“We have developed a vision sensor that is able to transmit visual information to the patient’s central nervous system by intervening with functions of the appropriate cells of the damaged retina. Some of the experiments have got to the phase of clinical trials: 15 visually impaired people have received the gene therapy vaccine we developed.”, Dr. Botond Roska said.

Clinical trials are being conducted in London, Paris and the United States. The results of the first five subjects are currently being assessed and by the end of the year the results on the therapy’s efficiency will have been made public.

Dr. Botond Roska graduated from Semmelweis University and is currently the director of the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel, professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Basel and leader of the neurobiology research group at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research. The neurobiologist is one of the most renowned scientific authorities for vision improvement and retina research. He won the Semmelweis Budapest Award in 2019, the most prestigious awards of Semmelweis University and received the Hungarian Order of St. Stephen in the same year. The method of the ground-breaking gene therapy using the mechanism of the thermal vision of snakes was assisted by Semmelweis University’s Retina Laboratory and the results were published in Science in June

An earlier interview with Dr. Botond Roska is available here.

Ádám Szabó, source: MTI
Photo: Attila Kovács – Semmelweis University
Translation: Ágnes Raubinek