Prof. Marián Valko – Personality of Science and Technology
Awarded Prof. Ing. Marián Valko, DrSc., is an expert in the field of physical chemistry and molecular spectroscopy, from the Institute of Physical Chemistry and Chemical Physics, Faculty of Chemical and Food Technology of the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava.
The culmination of the Week of Science and Technology in Slovakia is the awarding of awards for work and achievements in the area of science and technology. The awards ceremony took place on 10 November 2016 at 7PM in the INCHEBA Expo in Bratislava. The Award for Science and Technology in five categories (Personality of Science and Technology, Lifelong Achievements in Science and Technology, Personality of Science and Technology Under 35 Years, Populariser of Science, and Scientific and Technical Team of the Year) were given by the Minister of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic Peter Plavčan, who is the patron of the event. The Award for Science and Technology has been awarded since 2014, replacing the Award of the Minister of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic. The objective of this transformation is to increase the social prestige of the awards for science and technology.
Prof. Ing. Marián Valko, DrSc., was awarded the Award for Science and Technology in the category Personality of Science and Technology. Proponents: Slovak Rectors' Conference and the Higher Education Council of the Slovak Republic.
Prof. Ing. Marián Valko, DrSc. (1963), comes from Bratislava. He graduated in physical chemistry from the Faculty of Chemical Technology, Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava. Since 1987, he works at the Slovak University of Technology and since 2013, in the capacity of professor of physical chemistry. His scientific activity has significantly contributed, in the international context, towards clarifying the role of free radicals in the biosystems, where he has dealt with the interactions of metals with biomolecules and the role of redox-active metals in the formation of free radicals. A significant part of his scientific activity has been dedicated to the comprehensive analysis of the role of metals in living systems, especially metal homeostasis and the role of redox-active metals in neurological diseases.
The team of prof. Ing. Marián Valko, DrSc. designed a mechanism for the reduction of oxidative stress component in neurological diseases by applying multifunctional medicaments. In the experimental area, he has been devoted to the preparation and properties of complex compounds of the transition components with Schiff bases. He has focused on e.g. detection of oxygen on the transition elements in these compounds, which is valuable not only in biological terms, but also in terms of chemical catalysis. A large part of his scientific work also falls into the realm of experimental and theoretical studies, where he has focused on electron structure, e.g. of complex compounds of transition elements with different ligands and the influence of substituents on the electron density of the metal's central ion. Since 1993, he has been principally responsible for VEGA projects and currently also leads a project within the Slovak Research and Development (APVV). He has published more than 110 publications indexed in the Web of Science in recognised scientific journals and there are more than 12,000 responses to his works in the international citation databases. In 2015, he was classified as a Highly Cited Researcher – the only one in Slovakia – by the publisher of the Web of Science – Thomson Reuters.
We interviewed Prof. Ing. Marián Valko, DrSc.
M. BARTOŠOVIČOVÁ: Professor Valko, you have just received the prestigious award – Personality of Science and Technology. What do you think about this award and what does it mean to you?
M. VALKO: "I highly appreciate the award. For me and for the whole team of the EPR Laboratory of the Physical Chemistry Department, it is a satisfaction for our work and at the same time a commitment for the future."
M. B.: The Award for Science and Technology has been awarded to you for a comprehensive analysis of metals and antioxidants in living systems, description of the interaction of metals with biomolecules and the role of redox metals in the formation of free radicals. Could you, at least briefly, explain to us the content of your research?
M. VALKO: "The excessive formation of free radicals may occur in living systems, among other factors, also due to the presence of free, redox-active metals (iron, copper, manganese). Increased amount of such available – unbound metals is due to the disruption in homeostasis of metals and has been observed in a variety of lifestyle diseases. The excess of free metal ions leads to the formation of metal-induced oxidative stress, which can cause serious damage to biomolecules. Our research group studies the elimination and prevention mechanisms of the formation of free radicals arising as a result of action of an excess amount of free, redox-active metals in the tissues of various organs. We examine a number of biologically active substances – potential drugs, which are able to 'pacify' unbound metals and thus reduce the formation of free radicals that damage cells. In our research, we apply many physics techniques such as magnetic resonance spectroscopy, molecular spectroscopy techniques and other experimental techniques. We explore the protective effect of these substances on cells in cooperation with biological institutes at home and abroad."
M. B.: How long have you been working on the above-mentioned research and what is its application in practice?
M. VALKO: "In our group, we have been researching the role of redox materials in the formation of oxidative stress for more than 10 years. Despite the fact that it is a basic research, we believe that the acquired results will contribute to a complex mosaic of knowledge and they will find their application in clinical practice. We realise that the fight against lifestyle diseases is and will be very challenging, especially with increasing life expectancy."
M. B.: What do you devote your time to at the moment?
M. VALKO: "As I have already mentioned, increased number of unbound, redox-active metals occur as a side-effect of various lifestyle diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and many others, not only neurological diseases. Currently, we are studying substances of synthetic and natural origin, which could potentially reduce the metal induced component of oxidative stress in Alzheimer's disease."
M. B.: What is your idea about the future direction of your research?
M. VALKO: "If possible, in the future, we hope to expand our studies within the scope of cooperation with in vivo experiments. We believe that such experiments could 'move' the examined systems closer to the clinical practice."
M. B.: Thank you for the interview. On behalf of the editorial staff, I congratulate you for the award and wish you many more success.
The Award for Science and Technology has been awarded since 2014, replacing the Award of the Minister of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic. The objective of this transformation is to increase the social prestige of the awards for science and technology.
Please visit the event's website Week of Science and Technology in Slovakia (only Slovak version) to find the list of all awarded in the individual categories, or see the e-newspapers Scientific kaleidoscope.
The main organiser of the Week of Science and Technology in Slovakia is the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic in cooperation with the Slovak Centre of Scientific and Technical Information and the National Centre for the Popularisation of Science and Technology in Society. The general partner of the event is Huawei.
Interview prepared and published by: Marta Bartošovičová, NCP S&T within the SCSTI
Photo: Ján Laštinec, NCP S&T within the SCSTI
Portrait in the introduction: from the archive of prof. Marián Valko
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