Language Switcher

Switch Language

Bayer Foundation Science Awards 2020

Bayer Foundation has awarded Ruth Ley PhD with the 2020 Otto Bayer Prize, endowed with 75,000 EUR. The researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology received the award in a virtual ceremony for her groundbreaking research on the human microbiome. The winners were selected by the newly founded Bayer Foundation Science Council.



Honoring Ruth Ley for her research


In his  speech, Werner Baumann, Chairman of the Board of Management of Bayer, emphasized the importance of science and transparency in research: “In record time – much quicker than even the most optimistic observers dared to hope – scientists were able to develop various vaccines against the virus. This success is also a testament for the value of global collaboration. Now we are on the brink of a vaccination program of historic scale. It has the potential to boost trust in science and vice versa, it needs trust to get large parts of the population vaccinated. We as business community must meet the need for transparency in research and set new standards.”


Werner Baumann congratulated the award winner Ruth Ley: “Research on microbiomes has the potential to revolutionize our approach to nutrition and diseases. We are very pleased to honor today a true pioneer and outstanding scientist in microbiome research.”


Ruth Ley herself said: “One of the missions of my research is to find out how we can keep the gut microbiome balanced and make it work for us. I am delighted to see that my area of research is recognized as a mainstream scientific topic now. I was not always sure that it would be accepted by the medical sciences.“


Ruth Ley Awardee of the Otto Bayer Award 2020

“The award puts microbiome research in the limelight, and I think we can expect important new treatments to result from it.”

The Otto Bayer Award

The Otto Bayer Award is one of the most prestigious and sought-after honors for life scientists in German-speaking countries. The award winner was chosen last year, but due to the Corona pandemic, the award ceremony did not take place until now. The Otto Bayer Award honors scientists who have conducted pioneering research in innovative areas of biochemistry and chemistry. It has been presented since 1984 in memory of its endower and the inventor of polyurethane chemistry, Professor Otto Bayer. The former Head of Research at Bayer AG (not related to the company founder), who died in 1982, promoted intensive contact with academia and supported the university training of young scientists.



Early Excellence in Science Awards 2020


In addition to the Otto Bayer Award, Bayer Foundation also presented the Bayer Early Excellence in Science Awards (EESA). The award honors young outstanding scientists in their early stage of career with 10,000 EUR each. Liam Condon, Head of the Crop Science Division and Executive Director Bayer Foundation, handed over the EESA virtually to the prize winners.





In the Biology category Dr. Julia Mahamid (European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg) was awarded. Her cryo-electron microscopy studies include analysis of nuclear peripheries and the machinery of gene expression in bacteria. She has also further developed specimen preparations under cryogenic conditions for tomographic electron microscopy analyses.





In the Chemistry category Dr. Josep Cornellà (Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung Mülheim) is the winner for his innovative research on the design and use of catalytic strategies in organic synthesis. In his research, he used new catalytic systems based on nontoxic, commonly occurring and easily accessible elements to unlock unforeseeable catalytic processes.





In the Medicine category Dr. Nicolai Franzmeier (Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich) was honored for developing new imaging techniques to investigate Alzheimer’s disease. He has succeeded in identifying key brain mechanisms that underlie the spreading of tau pathology, i.e. the key driver of cognitive decline, across brain networks.



Data Science


The new addition in 2020 is the category of Data Science in the Life Sciences: Dr. Marinka Zitnik (Harvard University) was being presented with the award for her innovative use of machine learning approaches to analyze multidimensional biomedical data. Innovative solutions such as those developed by Dr. Zitnik are essential for dealing with the massive amounts of data and their complexity in medicine and life sciences.




Watch the Awards Ceremony

If you did not have the chance to join the live event, you can watch the recording of the complete Science Awards ceremony of the Bayer Foundation below. The recording consists of the following parts:


Introduction                                                                                  00:00 – 4:50

Speech by Werner Baumann                                                     04:51 – 23:46

EESA Awards                                                                                 23:47 – 39:30

Otto Bayer Award                                                                        39:31 – 51:00

Presentation by the Otto Bayer Awardee Ruth Ley               51:01 – 01:07:30

End of the Ceremony                                                             01:07:31 – 1:08:57

Bayer Foundation Science Award Ceremony

210304 Bayer Foundation

More stories like this:

Enabling Young African Scientists to Become Scientific Leaders in Their Community

Read more

Bayer Foundation at Berlin Science Week

Read more


Read more