Meet the speakers of the Falling Walls Czech Republic 2019:
Breaking the wall of Inaccessible Drinking Water
Problem : There is huge lack of drinkable safe water all over the world. Especially in developing countries however also during catastrophes all around the globe. Solutions are expensive and unpractical.
Solution: I have invented the cheapest nanofibrous water filter which could be mass produced in kilometers and which could be easily distributed because of its parameters and lightweight.
BIO : Vojtech Kundrat study Material chemistry in Masaryk and works for Nafigate corporation a.s., company specialized in nanofibers and its application. For last 8 years he is focused on water filtration and purification without using additional power supply. He works for NGO Ifakara z.s. and regularly travels to Tanzania and other African countries where he works on humanitarian projects. Based on his experiences he developed several filtration membranes and water filters. He is also author of several patents in the field. Final result of his work is presented.
Breaking the wall of Traditional Toxic Catalysts
Problem : One of the traditional industrial processes, ester hydrogenolysis, is still performed at severe energy-intensive conditions using CuCr catalysts that are a source of liquid and solid hazardous waste.
Solution: New CuZn-based catalysts, being more environmentally friendly alternative, were considered to be efficient and selective in ester hydrogenolysis. Also, they could be used at milder reaction conditions.
BIO : Originally born in Kazakhstan, I am currently in my second year as a PhD student in Petroleum Technology and Alternative Fuels at the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague, Czech Republic. My research focus is on developing new eco-friendly catalysts as an alternative to chromium-containing catalysts currently used for the production of organic alcohols. My overall goal is to contribute to the application of Green Chemistry principles to industrial practice. The part of our research has been already published in a highly-ranked journal in a field of Catalysis, ChemCatChem, with me as the main author.
Paul Chandra Sekhar
Breaking the wall of
Sewage Sludge Problem
Problem : In recent days wastewater treatment is a great problem from the environmental point of view. On the other hand, plant available nutrients supply is a major problem in agriculture.
Solution: The sewage sludge contains a high amount of nutrients and also harmful materials. We can convert the sewage sludge to biochar by pyrolysis process and can apply the biochar as a fertilizer.
BIO : Chandra Sekhar Paul is a driven and passionate researcher. Paul has a strong research professional with a Bachelor in Plant Science and M.Sc. in Agricultural Biotechnology focused on Microbiology, Soil Science and Environmental Microbiology. Currently pursuing a PhD in Biodegradation and Soil Microbiology in Czech University of Life Sciences Prague (CULS). Paul done two short summer training in University of Hohenheim, Germany. Efficient in research management, devising, and analytical skills to research projects. Work well in a team and high-pressure positions. With good grasping and learning capability. A desire to explore and learn new things.
Breaking the wall of
Photocontrollable Signaling Lipids
Problem : Due to the restricted choice of tools and techniques for the visualization and manipulation of lipid levels in living cells,biology of signaling lipids has not been fully explored.
Solution: We would like to develop tools able to selective delivery of lipids at specific subcellular sites, quantification of delivered lipids amount and control of activity of signaling lipids by light.
BIO : I am basically from India, working as a post-doctoral fellow under supervision of Dr. Dmytro Yushchenko at the IOCB. I am currently involved in the design and synthesis of photoactivatable lipids to get qualitative and quantitative insights on cell signaling mechanisms. I utilize these tools to deliver the signaling lipids in different cellular compartments in a spatiotemporal manner, and to study their influence on cell signaling. I am passionate about the learning of advanced microscopy techniques to get mechanistic insights into lipid signaling. I use confocal microscopy to check the localization of photoactivatable lipids in cellular system. Additionally, I perform the photoactivation and time-lapse imaging techniques to investigate the influence of signaling lipids on intracellular Ca2+ level and β-cell signaling.
Breaking the wall of
Cell-specific Gene Therapy
Problem : There are many diseases for which gene therapy is the only permanent solution. However cell-specificity is the main problem to tackle- reaching and correcting only the cells we want.
Solution: Smart, dynamically moving nanorobots designed to get activated only when they reach desired cell which is followed by a gene correction of the cell.
BIO : Alžběta had completed her Master‘s in Molecular Medicine in Berlin and has always wanted to stand at the bridge connecting biology and medicine. During her master’s thesis she was part of a project where CRISPR-a powerful gene editing tool- was tested as a hope for kids with certain deadly genetic disease. After her return to Brno she started working with nanorobots. An idea for a PhD project emerged in her mind- fusing gene therapy and smart nanorobots to tackle a cell- specificity problem, therefore genetically correcting only the tissue that should be corrected. A problem that gene therapy research faces every day. And that is the wall she wants to break. Alžběta is also passionate about ethics of gene therapy in humans and she has presented this topic at primary and high schools to spread the knowledge about CRISPR and its potential. In her free time, she takes film photos and develops them herself and takes care of an urban jungle in her apartment.
Breaking the wall of the Unemployment of Disabled People
Problem : At EU level, about 47% of persons with disabilities are employed, compared to 72% of persons without disabilities. Unemployment may lead to poverty and social exclusion.
Solution: : Knowledge is power and thus there is a need to empower the individuals with disability and increase the collaboration and communication among them, the stakeholders, policy makers and employers.
BIO : My great passion is delivering the best evidence based care for people who have been through a trauma/illness that has completely changed their life. I help my clients, who include adults, children and families, to find a way to live independent and safe live. There is no single approach that can be applied for every individual, and so I have been always learning and exploring a range of alternative theories and approaches. I have gained knowledge and skills from working six years as occupational therapist with spinal cord injured individuals at the Royal National Orthopedic Hospital in the UK. Furthermore, I am a delegate and active member of international organisations such as MASCIP, ISCOS and SCI OT. My education background includes a MSc in Occupational Therapy from Brunel University in the United Kingdom where I completed thesis focusing on the vocational rehabilitation for individuals after spinal cord injury. I am currently teaching at the West Bohemia University in the Czech Republic.
Breaking the wall of
Early Cognitive Rehabilitation
Problem : Brain injuries are major public health, medical, and societal challenges globally. Cognitive rehabilitation from early stages of onset highly requires an effective comprehensive biomedical instrument.
Solution: Interactive, variable, smart cube(s) coursed for effective cognitive stimulation developed on clinical neuropsychological experience in cooperation with biomedicine and software engineering.
BIO : Petr Nilius is a Clinical psychologist and Psychotherapist working with people with brain affected disorders of all ages in Ostrava. Everyday contact with patients at the clinical psychological practice stimulates his professional interest in psychological assessment, cognitive rehabilitation and psychotherapy. Petr completed a PhD in Clinical psychology at Palacky University in Olomouc on the topic of neurocognitive rehabilitation for neurological patients. Later, fundamental principles of experiential learning programmes, in combination with neuropsychology, inspired him to create a brain stimulating device - Eddie. Petr also deeply believes that higher education and social responsibility go hand in hand and therefore cooperates with the local council in organising methodological and supervisory support for multidisciplinary teams providing psychological counselling at primary schools in Ostrava.
Breaking the wall of
Problem : Turbulence is the last unsolved problem of the classical mechanics, although many engineering problems related to fluids are solved since the origin of human civilization.
Solution: The building blocks of turbulence are vortices, whose behavior and interactions I am trying to describe statistically by analyzing large set of individual vortices found in the measured flow-field.
BIO : Daniel Duda is experimental scientist at the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen. He achieved his doctoral degree at the Charles University for investigations of quantum turbulence in superfluid 4He, which is type of turbulence without classical analogy created by a tangle of quantized vortices – topological singularities in the order parameter of the macroscopic wave of condensed matter. In classical turbulence, such as that of flowing air, the vortex is not so rigidly defined object, although it is still a so-called coherent structure of large number of macroscopically ordered movements of the fluid particles. The similarities of statistical behavior of classical and quantum turbulences leads Daniel to describe turbulence as a set of individual objects – vortices, whose statistical behavior reconstructs the empirically well-known statistical laws of turbulence whose explanation is still hidden behind the wall of mystery. This wall is still very far from fall, but it is slowly falling.
Gabriele Maria Grittani
Breaking the wall of Expensive Cancer Treatment!
Problem : Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, responsible of about 1 in 6 deaths. About half of cancers are treated by radiotherapy, which is very effective but at the same time very expensive.
Solution: I am working on a revolutionary technology to produce radiation, and I patented its use for radiotherapy (with other 3 colleagues, I am the project leader). This device will halve the price of therapy.
BIO : I am a Radiation Physicist working on laser particle accelerators. I received my Master’s Degree in Medical Physics from the University of Pisa (Italy) in 2013. The day after my graduation, I moved to the Czech Republic to join the ambitious project ELI-Beamlines, where I am still working on innovative particle accelerators based on lasers. I received my Ph.D. from the Czech Technical University in Prague, Faculty of Nuclear Sciences and Physical Engineering in 2018, with a dissertation titled ‘‘Experimental study of laser wake-field acceleration and applications of laser-accelerated electron beams in the ELl-Beamlines project’’. My research activity is centered on finding innovative utilizations of this unique laser particle accelerators. The best results I have achieved is a granted patent on an innovative device to treat cancer based on the technology that we are developing in the laboratory. The potential impact of this device is immense, since it could lead to a drastic reduction of the cost of a cancer treatment.
Breaking the wall of
Problem : Avian coccidiosis causes a lot of economical losses in chicken meat production and emergence of antibiotics resistant strains, especially after a prolonged use of a feed drugs is rapidly increasing.
Solution: Dendritic cells-based vaccines offer a solution of coccidiosis because these cells have a unique ability to induce both innate immune responses and highly specific acquired immunity against coccidia.
BIO : I am a student of Faculty of Agri sciences at Mendel university in Brno. In last two years I have dealt with poultry nutrition, especially with using of plant extracts in connection with mitigation of heat stress in chickens. In my master studies I presented results of my work in conferences and published in scientific journals. At the end of my master studies I attended the course in Netherland about poultry health and then I have decided to continue in a field of poultry research and focus on avian immunology. Now I am at the start of my Ph.D. studies and my work will concern with use of nanofibers scaffold for avian dendritic cells culture in vitro. Subsequently, these cells could be used for studying interactions with poultry pathogens and use for processing dendritic cells-based vaccines against main poultry pathogens, such as Eimeria, originator of avian coccidiosis.
Breaking the wall of Immunodeficiency Diseases
Problem : Millions of patients die of debilitating disease or complete destruction of the immune system on a global scale every year. Its primarily associated with prevents body from producing T-lymphocytes.
Solution: The solution is suitable 3D scaffold based on biodegradable fibers, which is capable, in combination with stem epithelial cells, to generate thymus organoid which is able to create new T-lymphocytes.
BIO : Jakub is postgraduate student at the Department of Nonwovens and Nanofibrous Materials. He is eager, result-driven young researcher with interest in the fields of nanotechnology, material science and tissue engineering. Jakub has an practical knowledge of material engineering and techniques for creation of nanofibrous materials and their subsequent functionalization. His current research topics are mainly: tissue scaffolds for bone tissue engineering and thymus organoid, nanofibrous layers for photodynamic therapy of skin carcinoma and nanofibrous sorbents for analytical chemistry. His research on the field of tissue engineering earned him Théophile Legrand Innovation Award 2019. When he isn't glued to a microscope eyepiece, he spends time in the gym, learning play piano, and trying very hard not to be the worst climber on the wall.
Breaking the wall of
Large Rigid Robots
Problem : State of the art robotic systems are fascinating in many ways, but traditional concepts have a number of common limits, especially reconfigurability and energy performance.
Solution: My research team is working on the systems of untethered soft-bodied miniature robots controlled by a magnetic field, that are inspired by physique and intelligence of insect
BIO : František Mach works in the field of electromechanics and computational electromagnetics with emphasis on design optimization, building complex electromechanical devices applied to robotics and industrial systems. He received the PhD degree in electrical engineering from the University of West Bohemia (UWB), Pilsen, in 2015. Since October 2012, he has been a researcher with the Regional Innovation Centre for Electrical Engineering in Pilsen and currently leads a research group on electromagnetic actuation.
Breaking the wall of
Problem : Protection against nerve agents, the most lethal chemical weapons of mass destruction, is still not fully adressed. Besides, currently approved drugs are unable to target affected CNS.
Solution: Our idea was to create small bifunctional compounds able to deal with intoxication in peripheral as well as in central nervous system. Developed drug candidates are currently under IP protection.
BIO : Dr. Lukas Gorecki graduated from Charles University, Faculty of Pharmacy in Hradec Kralove in 2015. He continued as postgraduate at the Department of Toxicology and Military pharmacy, Faculty of Military Health Sciences, University of Defense, where he was dealing with design and synthesis of cholinesterases modulators. Throughout his Ph.D. studies he was devoted in various fields of research related to these enzymes. However, his main topic represents acetylcholinesterase reactivators as antidotes against organophosphorous compounds, like nerve agents that are considered the most toxic chemical weapons of mass destruction. This was also the subject of his 5-months internship at University of California, San Diego (USA). Currently, he is employed as postdoc at Biomedical Research Center, University Hospital Hradec Kralove, where he continues with search for novel antidotes against nerve agents. Besides, he is now involved as junior researcher in the design and synthesis of ATR selective inhibitors a perspective anticancer therapy.
Breaking the wall of
Problem : Cardiovascular diseases are still the leading cause of death worldwide. The heart is a very complex and costly tissue to model in vitro, and animal models do not reflect the complexity of human heart.
Solution: Developing small 3D cardiac organoids, implementing them to lab-on-a-chip technologies for miniaturized, physiologically relevant, cost effective and ethical tissue models for personalized medicine.
BIO : Ece Ergir holds Master’s degree in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine (University of Applied Sciences, Technikum Wien, Austria), and is currently pursuing an interdisciplinary PhD in Technical Chemistry in Vienna University of Technology (Austria), in collaboration with Center for Translational Medicine (CTM) in International Clinical Research Center of St. Anne's University Hospital Brno (FNUSA-ICRC, Czech Republic). She was also a visiting scientist at the University of Melbourne (Australia) in 2018 within an EU Horizon-2020 Fellowship (Nanosupremi). Ms. Ergir is interested in cardiovascular mechanobiology, and is working on small 3D cardiac organoids derived from human stem cells, and their integration in organ-on-a-chip systems to make microphysiological platforms that resemble the human heart tissue for use in translational research, and personalized medicine. Her personal interests include science communication, languages, music (piano), drawing cartoons, and generous amounts of coffee and Czech beer.
Breaking the wall of
Affordable Autonomous Vehicles
Problem : Autonomous driving is one of the most exciting frontiers of the present time. Many companies are developing autonomous vehicles, but they often rely on latest technologies, which are very expensive.
Solution: Me and my team at CTU develop a driverless electric racecar with the autonomous system made from more affordable parts to make it viable also for owners current car models.
BIO : I hold a B.Sc. Degree in Software Engineering from Czech Technical University (CTU) and am currently pursuing two concurrent Master Degrees: Smart Cities at CTU and Public Policy (eGovernment) at Charles University. I have also co-authored research focused on Software Quality Assurance. Apart from my day-to-day responsibilities as a student and researcher, I have also been an active member of a unique project - eForce FEE Prague Formula. eForce is a team of mostly undergrad students who, on a voluntary basis, are building a new, top-of-the-class electrical racing formula. The team was founded 9 years ago and remains the only team tackling this problem in Czechia. One of the traits defining the team compared to the Western competition is the limited funds forcing the team to come up with ingenious workarounds – which is closely related to my presentation topic: Describing how such a team can aspire to build autonomous vehicles.