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The winners of the Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists


This global prize aims to reward scientists at an early stage of their careers.

The Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists was established in 2013. Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and SciLifeLab, joined forces in creating the Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists to recognize excellence amongst young researchers from around the world.

Considering the difficult economic environment for budding scientists, it is crucial that we provide them with extra encouragement as they begin their scientific careers, describes SciLIfeLab.


A unique week filled with events in honor of science

The international prize is awarded annually to four young scientists for outstanding life science research based on a doctoral degree earned in the previous two years. Each year, a Grand Prize winner is selected from the applicants to receive 30,000 USD in prize money and the three other category winners are awarded 10,000 USD each for their accomplishments.

The grand prize winning essay will be published in Science and essays from the three category winners will be published online. In addition, all four winners of the Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists will be invited to Sweden in December 2021 to participate in a unique week filled with events in honor of science. They will have the opportunity to meet with leading scientists in their field of research and create life-long connections to support their career.

The annual award ceremony and banquet is held in the Grand Hôtel Hall of Mirrors in Stockholm – the original venue of the Nobel Prize banquet.

3 X Prizes with life science applications

The prize is awarded to four young scientists in four categories (cell and molecular biology, molecular medicine, genomics, proteomics and systems biology approaches and ecology and environment). One of these are also announced as the Grand Prize winner, and this year Lin Meng, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, USA, the ecology and environment winner, won the grand prize. Her title essay was called The calendar of tree greening in cities. She is currently a postdoctoral scholar at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA, where she investigates large-scale forest-atmosphere exchange of carbon, water, and energy in Amazonia.

The Cell and Molecular Biology Prize

Anete Romanauska, Max Perutz Labs, Vienna, Austria, is the winner of the cell and molecular biology prize 2021. Her title essay is called Storing fat inside the nucleus.

Anete was born in Latvia and grew up in a small village Jaunauce. She studied biology at the University of Latvia in Riga. First steps into science and research Anete took at the Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Centre (BMC). In 2016 Anete started her PhD at Alwin Koehler’s lab at the Max Perutz Labs in Vienna. During her PhD, Anete studied lipid metabolism at the inner nuclear membrane and now continues to investigate membrane morphology and functionality as a postdoctoral researcher.

The Molecular Medicine Prize

Wenfei Sun, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA, is the winner of the molecular medicine prize 2021. His title essay is called Burning fat to heat.

Wenfei is originally from Changxing, China. Initially interested in studying physics and chemistry, he attended college at China Pharmaceutical University, where he developed an enthusiasm in medical research. Following this enthusiasm, he pursued training in Richard Deckelbaum’s lab at Columbia University where he received his master’s degree. Then he moved to ETH Zürich for his Doctor of Sciences degree in Molecular Biomedicine, where he worked with Christian Wolfrum to study the biology of metabolic disorders. Laveraging clinical data from thousands of individuals as well as single cell genomic technologies, he uncovered an epigentic circuit and identified a novel type of adipocytes that both modulate brown adipose tissue thermogenesis. Wenfei is currently a postdoctoral scholar at Stephen Quake’s lab at Stanford University, studying the molecular basis of long-term memory.

The Genomics, Proteomics and Systems Biology Approaches Prize

Adrian Baez-Ortega, Wellcome Sanger Institute, Hinxton, UK, Magdalene College, Cambridge, is the winner of the genomics, proteomics and systems biology approaches prize 2021. His title essay is called As cancer grows old: tracing the evolution of an ancient tumour lineage.

Adrian Baez-Ortega is a postdoctoral researcher at the Wellcome Sanger Institute (Hinxton, UK), and a research fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge. His current research focuses on the processes that shape the somatic evolution of human and animal tissues in health and disease. Before moving to Cambridge, Adrian completed BSc and MSc degrees in Computer Science at the University of La Laguna, on his home island of Tenerife, Spain. After research internships in Spain and Cambridge, he joined Elizabeth Murchison’s group at the University of Cambridge as a PhD student in 2015. For his doctoral work, Adrian received honours including the 2020 Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award and the 2019 Kennel Club Postgraduate Student Inspiration Award.

Photo of Wenfei Sun, Anete Romanauska and Adrian Baez-Ortega: