Einstein Foundation Award 2023 — The Einstein Foundation Berlin awards €500,000 prize to enhance quality in research
The Einstein Foundation Berlin is to honor Belgian bioinformatician Yves Moreau, the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences, and the Responsible Research Assessment Initiative with this year’s Einstein Foundation Award for Promoting Quality in Research 2023.
The recipient of the Individual Award is Yves Moreau from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. Moreau ranks among the most ardent advocates for ethical standards in the utilization of human DNA data in the age of artificial intelligence and big data. He designs algorithms that protect personal privacy during the analysis of genetic data. This year’s Institutional Award recognizes the work of the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS), which advocates for rigor, transparency, and reproducibility in social scientific research. The Institute achieves this through establishing open science practices, developing appropriate infrastructure, and conducting meta-research. The 2023 Early Career Award goes to the Responsible Research Assessment Initiative headed by Anne Gärtner (Dresden University of Technology). The project aims to identify, test, and establish novel criteria for the assessment of researchers and their output. Moving away from quantity of output and other unsuitable metrics, it will foreground quality of research by taking into account factors such as transparency, robustness, innovation, and cooperation.
The €500,000 Einstein Foundation Award for Promoting Quality in Research honors researchers and institutions whose work helps to fundamentally advance the quality and robustness of research findings. The award is bestowed jointly with the QUEST Center for Responsible Research at the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH). “The Einstein Foundation Award is the first of its kind in the world to recognize efforts to improve research quality. Now in its third year, the award shines a spotlight on individuals and projects that exhibit outstanding dedication, but also the courage to view research practice in a more critical light,” explains Martin Rennert, Chair of the Einstein Foundation’s Executive Board. “We want to recognize these efforts and harness them as a means to drive action in the public sphere. Ultimately, credible and transparent research bolsters confidence in scientific work as a whole — work which plays an increasingly important role in society and the political arena in terms of its ability to address key challenges.” The award is presented in three categories to individual researchers, institutions, and early career researchers. Awardees are selected by a prestigious international jury of researchers from various disciplines.
“The jury has the difficult task of selecting winners from a very large number of outstanding nominees from around the world. This demonstrates to us that many individuals and organizations from a variety of scientific fields across the world are actively working to improve research quality,” comments Ulrich Dirnagl, Founding Director of the QUEST Center at BIH. “The Einstein Foundation Award increases the visibility of these efforts, pays tribute to those leading the way, and encourages fellow researchers to adopt similar approaches in their work.”
Jury member Michel Cosnard, computer scientist at the Université Nice-Sophia-Antipolis, believes that Yves Moreau is highly deserving of the award, which recognizes his unwavering dedication on both professional and ethical fronts. “Moreau links deep research in DNA analysis and artificial intelligence with ethics, integrity, and human rights. His work and achievements serve as a cornerstone to help us confront the difficult social questions that arise from rapid technological developments.”
Fellow jury member and Stanford University economist Alvin Roth firmly endorses the chosen winner of the Institutional Award: “The Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences plays an active, creative role in the ‘credibility revolution’ in science by promoting careful experimentation, and supporting efforts to make replication and verification commonplace.”
The award is funded by the Damp Stiftung for a period of ten years. Additional resources are made available by the State of Berlin. The publisher Nature Portfolio, the Public Library of Science (PLOS), and the Max Planck Foundation are supporting the Einstein Foundation Berlin in promoting and implementing the award.
The deadline for international nominations and applications for the Einstein Foundation Award 2024 will be published in January at award.einsteinfoundation.de.
About the 2023 award winners
Individual Award I Yves Moreau, KU Leuven
Bioinformatician Yves Moreau is a professor of engineering science at KU Leuven, Belgium. Moreau is at the forefront of the development of artificial intelligence (AI) applications for the analysis of DNA in disease diagnosis and medication development. He engineers algorithms for use in large-scale data analyses that guarantee the protection of privacy. Moreau champions the implementation of robust ethical standards concerning the handling of sensitive data in science. He lectures in big data ethics at KU Leuven. As a concerned scientist, he is regularly involved in public debates and is a vocal opponent of genetic surveillance technologies. He also offers his expertise to journalists, human rights activists, and other interested parties. Moreau aims to establish a strong ethical awareness among data scientists, which is essential in the age of AI, mass surveillance, and large language models such as ChatGPT. He aims to use the prize money of €200,000 for the Individual Award as a catalyst for advancing this cultural shift in the field of data science.
Institutional Award I Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences
Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS) advocates for ethical, transparent, and reproducible research in the social sciences in order to address the credibility crisis in the sciences and ensure that political decisions are based on robust data. BITSS develops the infrastructure required to support transparent social science research practice, such as the Preprint Service MetaArXiv and the Social Science Reproduction Platform (SSRP), which crowdsources attempts to assess and improve the reproducibility of social science research. The Initiative also conducts its own meta-research to validate scientific findings. BITSS has reached tens of thousands of social scientists across the world through its training and learning materials on Open Science practices. The Initiative was founded at the Center for Effective Global Action at the University of California in Berkeley in 2012 and has developed into one of the world’s most active organizations in the field of Open Science in the social sciences. The winner of the Institutional Award receives €200,000.
Early Career Award I Winner and shortlist
The Responsible Research Assessment Initiative was selected from 160 nominees as the winner of this year’s Early Career Award. Anne Gärtner (Dresden University of Technology) aims to develop novel criteria to assess research output that prioritize quality, transparency, and reproducibility over quantitative indicators. The criteria will then be tested and established in the behavioral, cognitive, and social sciences. The winner of the Early Career Award receives €100,000. The following four initiatives were shortlisted for the award:
1. The Global Analytical Robustness Initiative aims to improve the reliability and transparency of research in behavioral and social sciences by setting better analytical standards. The big team science project is headed by Barnabás Szászi of Eötvös Loránd University.
2. Disentangling large-scale disease association data aims to increase the transparency and clarity of association data to create precise data-centric computational models that facilitate more targeted drug development and the use of proven drugs to treat complex diseases. Lead researcher: David B. Blumenthal, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg.
3. FORRT Replications Team — Tracking and Mainstreaming Replications across the Social, Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences aims to boost the visibility of replication studies by making their results easier to find and analyze. Lead Researcher: Flavio Azevedo, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.
4. Scholars in the Global South: Between Precarity and Persecution aims to strengthen academic freedom and knowledge production in the Global South and create a platform that allows activists and scholars to engage in transparent interdisciplinary discussion. Lead researcher: Cynthia Farid, University Hong Kong.
Further information award.einsteinfoundation.de
The Einstein Foundation Berlin is an independent, not-for-profit, science-led organization established as a foundation under civil law in 2009. It promotes international cutting-edge science and research across disciplines and institutions in and for Berlin. It has funded more than 200 researchers, including three Nobel laureates, over 70 projects, and seven Einstein Centers.
The Damp Stiftung was established by Dr. Walter Wübben, the former majority owner of the Klinikgruppe Damp to fund medical research and teaching as well as social projects. Besides supporting the Einstein Foundation Award, the Damp Stiftung also provides funding for the Foundation’s Einstein Strategic Professorships.