Chemistry Institute honours work on innate immunity, conductivity

Ljubljana, 5 June - The Slovenian Chemistry Institute conferred on Tuesday the Pregl Prizes for outstanding achievements in the field of chemistry and related sciences on its own Mojca Benčina for research in innate immunity, and on Gvido Bratina of the University of Nova Gorica for work in electrical conductivity.

Benčina, a senior research fellow at the Chemistry Institute, is one of the most outstanding Slovenian researchers in immunology, microbiology and synthetic biology, the institute said in the announcement.

A major part of her recent work focuses on innate immunity, the field to which she has contributed multiple important discoveries in determining the activation mechanism for intracellular toll-like receptors TLR9 and TLR3 and receptors TLR5.

In synthetic biology, Benčina has participated in the development of logical operations in mammal cells and genetically coded sensors. She is also active in sonogenetics, developing techniques of selective activation of mammal cells with ultrasound.

Bratina, a full professor at the University of Nova Gorica, was described as one of the most outstanding Slovenian researchers in electronic, optical and structural features of thin organic semi-conducting layers and two-dimensional materials.

The head of the laboratory for organic matter physics at the university has recently been focused on the transfer of electric charge through organic semi-conductors and material systems connected with the semi-metal graphene.

Bratina also studies the characterisation of the initial phases of growth of organic semi-conductors on graphene and similar two-dimensional materials, mostly by using atomic force microscopy.

The awards, named after the Slovenian-born chemist and Nobel Prize laureate Friderik Pregl (1869-1930), were conferred as the main event of the ongoing Week of the Chemistry Institute.