Dear Friends of the Einstein Foundation Berlin,
As we slowly relax restrictions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and gradually return to socializing, there appears to be little time to pause as we already find ourselves confronted with the next set of challenges. The unprecedented attack waged by Russia against Ukraine is taking a disastrous toll on those in the region. At a global level, too, this new conflict is forcing us to re-examine long-held certainties. On top of this comes a host of familiar challenges, such as climate change and the energy transition, that demand urgent and continued action.
In times of multiple crises, it is science in particular that identifies, discusses, and probes logical solutions. Funding pioneering research in Germany’s capital is the goal driving the Einstein Foundation Berlin. In early December, we hosted the ceremony for the 2022 Einstein Foundation Award for Promoting Quality in Research to honor projects and research making outstanding contributions to research quality. In their own unique way, each of this year’s winners – Gordon Guyatt, the Psychological Science Accelerator, and the Ape Research Index – are helping to increase the objectivity of scientific practice. This ranges from identifying the right guiding questions to improving research itself, as well as fine-tuning its applicability.
Gordon Guyatt is a pioneer in evidence-based medicine and considered one of the most influential medical researchers of our day, having developed quality standards for all areas of clinical research that are now applied worldwide. He is the recipient of this year’s Individual Award, while the 2022 Institutional Award honors the Psychological Science Accelerator (PSA), a network of 1,400 researchers from 71 countries working to improve the quality of psychological research. The PSA promotes internationally networked research in large teams (big team science) with the aim of making psychological research findings reproducible and relevant across cultures. The winner of the Early Career Award is the Ape Research Index envisioned by Elisa Bandini (University of Tübingen) and Sofia Forss (University of Zurich), which aims to highlight an aspect that has previously been neglected in behavioral experiments involving primates that regularly participate in studies, namely the training effect on their cognitive abilities.
Over the past year, the Foundation has also distributed roughly € 25 million in funding to cutting-edge research conducted in Berlin. The Einstein Strategic Professors Kathrin Zippel and Ludovic Vallier and Einstein Professor Stefan Hecht have commenced their work in Berlin. The Foundation has extended funding for the Einstein Center Digital Future, but the segment to benefit most from newly released grants was the Academic Freedom program, which reminds us that science can only fulfill its vital role in our societies as long as it is free to raise and debate the issues it considers crucial. In the new funding phase starting in 2023, the Foundation will assign almost €4 million to researchers whose freedom of research is threatened in their home countries or whose lives are at risk. For the first time, the list of individuals supported by grants from the Einstein Foundation will include researchers from Russia and Ukraine.
Our various communication formats are proof that while science may be complex, it is anything but drab and boring. In the most recent episode of #AskDifferent, our podcast series, last year’s Einstein Foundation Award Winner Pauls Ginsparg takes us back to the beginnings of his arXiv.org and reflects on the ways it has changed and still changes scientific processes today. Our journal ALBERT also makes for interesting reading over the Christmas break. The latest issue on immunology is about to be published, and you can order your copy soom. Our previous issues offer a fascinating read and cover topics that remain highly relevant, ranging from democracy research (Issue 7) to green energy production powered by research on catalysis (Issue 6) and our digital future (Issue 5).
And the excitement keeps on coming in 2023. We’re already looking forward to a unique event taking place early next year: We invite you to attend our first “Einstein in the Dome” event of 2023 taking place on January 25, when former Einstein International Postdoctoral Fellow Riccardo Urso and Starting Group Leader Andreas Elsässer bring their research to life on the big screen at Berlin’s Zeiss Planetarium. To coincide with the “Adventures on the Nile” exhibition currently on display at Berlin’s Neues Museum, we would also like to invite you to join us on February 28 to discuss how perceptions of Egypt influenced early Egyptologists and the repercussions this continues to have, especially in the field of Egyptology (more information follow in the new year).
Only collectively can we overcome the challenges we face. This is true for society, but it’s a maxim that also applies to research and our Foundation. We would thus like to express our deepest gratitude to all those active on our council and boards, especially Ursula-Friederike Habenicht, Martina Brockmeier, Raed Saleh, and Tobias Schulze, who stepped down from their roles this year. We would also like to thank our many reviewers throughout the globe as well as our jury, who give their time freely and work so tirelessly for the Einstein Foundation. Our thanks also go to the Damp Stiftung for once again making Einstein Strategic Professorships and our Foundation Award possible, and our many partners in politics and business, as well as from various sections of society, who support our Foundation and its projects in so many ways. And, last but not least, we would like to thank the researchers in Berlin who bring our programs to life with their pioneering projects and initiatives.
We were delighted to be able to see so many of you again in person and to share such wonderful moments over the past twelve months. On behalf of everyone at the Einstein Foundation Berlin, we wish you and your family a joyous and peaceful holiday season, a relaxing festive break, and a very happy New Year. We look forward to seeing what 2023 will bring.
Chair of the Executive Board
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