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02 2016

charles university magazine

clara royer

Taking the Holocaust out of museums →4

combining science and beauty

→ 64

www.iforum.cuni.cz


10 Years of Excellent Ideas European Research Council (ERC) and its impact in Europe and the Czech Republic

In March 2017 the ERC will celebrate its 10th anniversary. On this occasion a conference and networking event entitled “10 years of excellent ideas” is organized by the Technology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences on 15th March in Prague. The event is hosted by the Charles University and is held under the auspices of the President of the Czech Academy of Sciences Professor Jiří Drahoš.

15th March 2017 10 am  — 7 pm Charles University Patriots Hall, Carolinum


1 editorial Forum 02

Welcome to the second edition of our Forum magazine to be published in English for international audiences. Inside, we give you a taste of some of the exciting and innovative work undertaken by the academic staff and students at Charles University in the Czech Republic. In particular, we shine the spotlight on our teaching and research in the important field of addictology in which our university is playing such a pioneering role internationally. We also talk to Clara Royer, screenwriter for the Oscar-winning film Son of Saul, who moved from France to Prague as director of the research centre CEFRES. She is now working closely with Charles University and the Academy of Sciences to re-establish strong cultural alliances between central Europe and France. Charles University is the oldest university in central Europe and in 2016 we celebrated the 700th anniversary of the birth of our founder, Charles IV. But we are certainly not resting on our laurels, as we hope this magazine demonstrates. We are undertaking the biggest investment in a hundred years with work beginning on our new Campus Albertov in downtown Prague. Our students are pioneering new forms of public engagement by setting up a social business venture to help the homeless in Prague, with the roving Café Velobloud. And we are attracting more and more interest with exciting projects such as the Online Encyclopaedia of Migration.

Migration is a huge issue for Europe and many parts of the world and inside we talk to Malek Azar, who left Syria for a new life as a student at Charles University and who is now helping our cutting-edge research in the Faculty of Pharmacy. We hope you enjoy reading about what we are doing and it is pleasing to see more of our work being recognised in the rankings, with geography being the latest to score well in the QS top world university subject rankings. We were also delighted last year to win the Best Public Administration Magazine and Newspaper Award in the 14th year of the Zlatý středník (Golden Semicolon) contest and to win the special Grand Prix award for the overall print quality for the special anniversary edition of Forum magazine that we published in both Czech and English to mark the 700th anniversary of the birth of Charles IV.  rofessor Martin Kovář P vice-rector for public affairs


2 contents Forum 02

contents 24 14 Charles University Magazine Issue 2/2016

interview

science lab

publisher

Petra Adámková

Petra Adámková

Responsible for content

clara royer – Taking the Holocaust out of museums 4

Ivo Klepáček – Getting one’s own voice back 22

Charles University Ovocný trh 5, 116 36 Prague 1 Professor Martin Kovář Vice-Rector for Public Affairs

Editor-in-Chief

Petra Köpplová Tel + 42 (0) 224 491 349

English copy-editing

spotlight – addictology

Petra Köpplová

JAN dušek – Seeing the invisible! 24

Nic Mitchell, Mark Whitehead

Editorial inquiries

Tel + 42 (0) 224 491 248

Lucie Kettnerová

email

michal miovský –

forum@cuni.cz

Contact us

For subscriptions or change of address please email: forum@cuni.cz

Graphic design

Filip Blažek, Eliška Kudrnovská, Designiq Forum is published twice a year and is free. The opinions expressed in Forum are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the Charles University. Reprinting of any articles or images from Forum without the express permission of Charles University is forbidden.

Distribution

Registration MK ČR E 22422 ISSN 1211-1732

Addictology: a young subject with deep roots 12

Roman Gabrhelík – Research at the leading edge 14 jiří libra – Making the grade as an addictologist 16 lenka richterová – Help is at hand for the younger generation 18 13 facts about addictology 20

Michal Andrle

Pavel stopka – Mice enter the post-genome era 28 Lucie Kettnerová

Prague relives the coronation of Charles IV 30


3 contents Forum 02

42 students

MY CU

close-up at cu

Petra Adámková

Ladislav Pavlata

Petra Köpplová

Online Encyclopedia presents a mosaic of migration 36

The silent beauty of the lush vegetation 46

A sanctuary for learning and leisure 54

Petra Köpplová

Malek Azar – New challenges on the road from Damascus 38 Lucie Kettnerová

books Anthony V. Liman

A key symbol in Japanese culture 48

Café VeloBloud roams through Prague 40

alumni

Lucie Kettnerová

Petra Köpplová

Petr Jan Juračka – Popularizer and polymath: a man of many talents 42

štěpán hulík – Simple storytelling, serious topics 50

54

Petra Köpplová

Mix up the potions of days gone by 58 4× Honorary Degrees 62 Combining science and beauty 64

64


4 interview Forum 02 4 obsah Forum 02


5 interview Forum 02

Clara Royer:

Taking the Holocaust out of museums Clara Royer now lives in Prague, where she shares her life between being director of the French research centre in humanities and social science CEFRES and her love of writing. Here she talks to Petra Adámková about her screenwriting role in Son of Saul – the Oscar-winning film directed by the Hungarian László Némes – and explains why CEFRES moved to the Czech capital TEXT BY Petra Adámková Photo by René Volfík

When did you start to write? When I was a child. I started to read and write at an early age. Whatever decision I make in my life, I always have in my mind the need for resources and the energy to write. This is what attracted me towards an academic career. My favourite form of writing is the novel and my first Csillag was published in 2011, in translation it means Star, and it deals with the obsession of identity and Judaism. It begins with the main character, a young woman, finding out she is not Jewish and investigating both her family history and what it means to be Jewish after Auschwitz.

The fame is not what I need for my life. I need peace and quiet for writing and this I have found in Prague

Your screenplay Son of Saul was honoured with the Grand Prix of the Cannes Film Festival, the Golden Globe and the 88th Academy Award Oscar as Best Foreign Language Film. How did the screenplay arise? Because I am a novelist, my best friend, László Némes, asked me if I would like to write his first movie with him. I was very happy to accept the offer because I knew he was a great talent. At the time I had just submitted my PhD and was waiting for the defence. This period of waiting is never pleasant, so I welcomed the screenplay writing. Screenplay writing is very different to novel writing: Novel writing is more secretive! Why did you and the director choose the Holocaust topic? I think the best way how to confront oneself with the present and the future is to look at the consequences of the past. We wanted to take the Holocaust out of the museums and the history books and get it away from the abstraction it had become. The viewer follows one man, and has a personal artistic experience through the film.


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The screenplay was a secret – only a few friends knew I was cooperating with László. I felt László could invent a new film language and I felt it was necessary to invent this. I’m proud I could be a part of the fantastic team he gathered around the film. Did you expect such a success of the film? Not at all! But living in Prague, I’m quite protected and people don’t know about me. In Budapest it is a bit different. After the Academy ceremony, when I was in Budapest, it was a bit weird even in the streets. The fame is not what I need for my life. I need peace and quiet for writing and this I have found in Prague. The Holocaust is still a challenge to artists. Your film Son of Saul was followed by another film of a similar theme, Austerlitz, presented at the Venice Film Festival. Both are different from Claude Lanzmann’s epic Holocaust documentary, Shoah. So what is the new dimension? Shoah is a turn in the history of the representations of the Holocaust, and an influence for Son of Saul. Our film, while built on the backbone of historical research and veracity, is a fiction. What was at heart here for the director László Némes and his team was to renew the language of such fictions. We wanted to give the viewers an experience as they follow a single point of view filtering the world around him. We wanted to do away with the over-showing, panoramic and choral way of making such films. We also wanted to tell a story about what really happened there, not to comfort the viewers with yet another story of survival and heroism. People may not remember the story of Son of Saul as a historical reality. Does it worry you that the ordinary viewer will see the film as just another action movie with historical background? No I don’t. I think Son of Saul takes the Holocaust out of the museums and the schoolbooks and hurts you in such a way that you are haunted. The film says: ‘Ecce Homo’ – here’s what’s within us!

Writing a novel means staying quiet, closing the door and writing. But I like writing in coffee houses where I can sit, maybe for ten hours, and write on my computer. For writing, I love Budapest and Prague because people don’t speak my language most of the time and I find a new freedom in my language this way

With aspects of Jewish culture integrated into the film, what might get lost in the story for viewer not familiar with the religion? The references to Judaism are one layer, not the core of the film. Our main character, Saul is not an observant Jew. He doesn’t know about the rituals as another member of the Sonderkommando – the group forced to help conceal all traces of the extermination – makes clear in the film when he says he needs no rabbi to bury the boy. What he fights about is not the Jewish ritual, especially since he won’t take the rabbi’s advice for granted. His quest is not about religion, but about something more primordial. Death and cemeteries don’t appear to fit in to the consumer society. In Western Europe we try to ignore this part of life and visiting cemeteries is not in vogue. Do you visit the graves of your ancestors regularly?​​ I wouldn’t say that. We live in a city where the Jewish cemetery in Josefov is a major attraction. Cemeteries have become part of the tourist route – a must see part of the tourism of memory. They’re reinvested, preserved, sometimes folklorized. This is not a phenomenon that only involves Jewish cemeteries – to take an example from France, the American cemetery at Omaha Beach in Normandy is a famous touristic spot. For those who live in a Godless world, death itself has been tamed into a good consumer product – see the success of the TV show Six Feet Under. But we’ve always had our ways to tame death… As for visiting one’s ancestors’ graves, well, that’s a private matter, and I believe one does what one needs to keep in touch. I write. What is your favourite place for writing? Writing a novel means staying quiet, closing the door and writing. But I like writing in coffee houses where I can sit, maybe for ten hours, and write on my computer. For writing, I love Budapest and Prague because people don’t speak my language most of the time and I find a new freedom in my language this way. Of late, I do not sleep a lot and I divide my life between CEFRES and my writing. Are you writing something new? I’m working on another novel, which compared to my last one will be more contemporary. At the same time I’m working with the same director, László Némes, on our next screenplay. We return to the past again, to Budapest in the 20th century, to another suicide of Europe. We are writing at distance at the moment, between Budapest, Prague and Paris with the other scriptwriter, Matthieu Taponier, though we visit each other whenever we can. Modern communication facilities help – phone, Skype and e-mail. The cooperation with László Némes has a big meaning for me. What brought you to Prague? CEFRES is the reason I’m here. But let us start at the beginning. I spent a year in Budapest while doing my MA; and then thanks to my PhD supervisor Professor


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Xavier Galmiche, I extended my scope to Central Europe and focused on Hungarian and Slovak literature and lived in Slovakia, in Bratislava, for eight months. During my post-doc I was based in Budapest for three years, but also lived for half a year in Poland. After that I was lucky enough to be recruited as Assistant Professor at the Sorbonne in Paris, where I have been teaching the cultures of Central Europe, including history, literature and contemporary topics of this region. I like teaching because it lets me hand down my experiences to students and I soon realized that an academic career was for me. When I heard about an opening with CEFRES in the Czech Republic, I thought Prague was the only Visegrad capital I had not lived yet and that I had never learned the Czech language. Next to the Hungarian language, I can speak Slovak and have notions in Polish and now I am learning Czech. I admit I do get a bit mixed up in some “Slavic Esperanto” of my conception! So you found yourself in February 2015 in CEFRES… CEFRES supports scientific training and mobility and aims to strengthen the partnerships between France and the Visegrad group countries – the cultural and political alliance between four central European states: Czech →

Son of Saul film (Hungarian Saul fia, 2015)

won the Grand Prix at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival; the Golden Globe and the 88th Academy Award Oscar for the Best Foreign Film. Clara Royer and director László Némes wrote the screenplay together. The film tells of 24 hours in Birkenau. The main character – Hungarian Jew Saul Ausländer – is a member of so-called Sonderkommando, which was forced to help conceal all traces of the extermination.

Imre Kértesz (1929–2016) The The Hungarian Jewish writer and translator wrote mainly about the Holocaust and totalitarianism and won the Nobel Prize in 2002. At 15 he was deported in Auschwitz and Buchenwald. His writing is grounded on his life experience. Two of his best-known books are Fiasco, 2011 (A kudarc) 1988) and Kaddish for a Child Not Born, 1997 (Kaddis a meg nem született gyermekért) 1990.


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Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. These two impulses were at the core of my project for CEFRES. In November 2014 an interdisciplinary CEFRES Platform was established with the Academy of Sciences and the Charles University, which is a great opportunity to move our centre form short-term to long-term projects and include the whole region. I try to set long-term networks of common contacts, topics and mutual connection, and we are only successful thanks to our partners – the Charles University and the Academy of Sciences. I must also mention my fantastic administrative team – Claire Madl and Věra Okénková. I can’t image CEFRES without these two ladies. And what are you preparing in CEFRES now? As we are talking, we are a few days before the first

Night of Philosophy in Prague, which we prepare with the Charles University and the Academy of Science within the CEFRES Platform in cooperation with many French and Visegrad partners. Prague is, in my opinion, the most philosophical city in the Visegrad region; and from 1970s, 1980s there was a great connection with French philosophy. I’m looking forward to the common open dialogue about many very contemporary topics between these philosophers and the Prague public. How can you manage all this things? To be honest, it is a sort of a double life. I put a lot of energy and time into CEFRES and at the same into writing; and I think I have found the right balance. I can see my friends, I can write and take care of CEFRES. When you are really devoted to what you


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I think Son of Saul takes the Holocaust out of the museums and the schoolbooks and hurts you in such a way that you are haunted. The film says: ‘Ecce Homo’ – here’s what’s within us!

are doing and make things with commitment, it makes sense. I’m devoted to CEFRES and to my writing. I’m happy, but I have a lot of things ahead of me to do. Do you also publish your academic and scientific work? I have written a biographical essay on Hungarian writer and Nobel prize winner in 2002, Imre Kertész, who died in March 2016. Imre Kertész: L’histoire de mes morts will be published in January 2017 in French, and I hope it will be translated. Completion of the book was not easy for me after Imre Kertész’s death. I had to rewrite some parts, of course. I’m very grateful that I could meet him personally and that we became friends.

Clara Royer is Director of the French research centre CEFRES, now based in Prague, which aims to strengthen scientific links between France and four central European states and has close links with Charles University and the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. She was screenwriter for the award-winning Hungarian film Son of Saul and her bibliographical essay about the Hungarian Jewish writer and Nobel prize winner Imre Kertész L’histoire de mes morts will be published soon.


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three million potential patients We shine the spotlight on the innovative teaching and research that is taking place at Charles University on addictology, including our unique courses focused on tackling the abuse of addictive substances, addictive behaviour and their impact and consequences. Over the next ten pages, we explain how addictology in the Czech Republic is based on a long tradition of self-help dating back to the middle of the 19th century and the first special treatment programmes from the early 1920s. And we tell how the University’s Department of Addictology has been contributing to advances in clinical inpatient treatment, research and education since it started operations in 2012 text by Lucie

Kettnerová  photo by René Volfík, Luboš Wišniewski, ČTK/AP


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Addictology: a young subject with deep roots The study of the abuse of addictive substances and addictive behaviour – addictology – is among the unique courses available at Charles University. Lucie Kettnerová finds out more

Today, there are around three million potential clients and patients in the Czech Republic alone, so students of drug abuse need not worry too much about their future employment!

People have been using drugs and other addictive substances from time immemorial – archaeological discoveries have shown that fermented alcoholic drinks made with honey and forest fruit were being made as early as the Neolithic era, 12‚000 years ago. However, alcohol culture was not common in Central Europe in the early days – our ancient ancestors preferred to get high using hallucinogens. The Slavs brought alcohol here, while more recent times have seen the growth of smoking, synthetic drugs, and the big yet still insufficiently explored problem of non-­ -substance addictions. Today, there are around three million potential clients and patients in the Czech Republic alone, so students of drug abuse need not worry too much about their future employment! Yet the study of the abuse of addictive substances and its impact on behaviour – known as addictology – is a relatively young subject based on a long Czech tradition of self-help activities dating back to the middle 19th century and the first specialized treatment programmes in the early 1920s. The first formal institutions devoted to addiction problems appeared in the early 20th century – in 1909, an alcohol treatment centre in was established in Velké Kunčice in Moravia, followed by the alcohol consulting centre in Brno a year later. None of them survived the First World War. However, the 1920s that followed were a heyday for drugs, especially cocaine, and also for self-help groups and the first attempts at prevention. But the early progress of addictology was again set back by the outbreak of the Second World War. A milestone in the history of Czech addictology was in the year 1948 when the socio-therapeutic club KLUS was established in Prague, followed by the first specialized inpatient ward for the research and treatment of alcoholism at the Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Charles University. The major

influences of the 1960s included the establishment of the psychotherapeutic training system founded by Associate Professor Jaroslav Skála, Eduard Urban and Dr Jaromír Rubeš, known as SUR. In 1970, Addiction (Toxikománie), a breakthrough interdisciplinary book by Eduard Urban, was published by Avicenum. The Department of Addictology, Charles University, a specialized department aimed at clinical inpatient treatment, research and education, opened its doors in January 2012 after the merger of the Centre of Addictology at the Department of Psychiatry, First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University and the Addiction Treatment Department at the General University Hospital in Prague. Even though the Department of Addictology operates under the First Faculty of Medicine, the team at Charles University consists of experts in law, epidemiology, social work, economy, criminology and special education. This interdisciplinary approach is not usual in Europe and Charles University is leading new developments in the study of the subject. Professor Michal Miovský, head of the department, says there are three main lines in the history of tackling addiction. “The oldest one is represented by self-help activities. The second focuses on abstinence and represents the legacy of alcoholism specialist Skála, and the third way – established after the velvet revolution – is based on public health interventions for hard reduction, risk reduction and an approach to unmotivated users together with prevention programmes. “All this emerged in the form of research and education at our clinic, and of course in the work of various services, or streetworkers and the transformed departments in psychiatric hospitals and outpatient services. Unfortunately, much of this is still fragmented, but these are the foundation stones of addictology today.” Miovský says addictology is still looking for its proper place in medicine. “The principal idea is that to help someone get rid of addiction is not the same as buying


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them new shoes and wishing them good luck. We need to understand their story and help them with changes affecting all levels of their life. And I’m not only talking about health but also relationships and social functions. In this humane approach, addictology could even inspire other branches treating chronic patients.” Compared to other parts of the world, Europe appears to be lagging behind in the development of the discipline. Miovský believes only the UK can be proud of its advanced addictological education. So Czech addictologists have sought cooperation with their colleagues from Australia, Asia or America. “Yet the reason may not be that Europe is lagging behind,” says Miovský, “but that there are, on the contrary, many different networks – charities, social services, communities and health services – where people can get help, while in Australia mental healthcare systems had to be built from scratch. So the Australians sought effective and straightforward structures, institutions and procedures.” Czech addictologists were surprised to discover that their colleagues in Australia and New Zealand were solving the same problems as themselves and asking the same questions. This led them to the idea that addictology students should get a license when they graduate, just like psychologists or medical doctors, to enable them to work abroad. “This issue is still unresolved as we lack a clear international understanding of what addictology is,” says Miovský. “We even lack a unified terminology – in fact no one calls it addictology but us. In English speaking countries, the most popular term is addiction professional, but it’s quite wide. So similar work is done by physicians, psychologists and social workers specializing in addictions.”

There was another weak point in Czech addictology – its narrow impact range and fragmented structure. That’s why the subject is now based on interdisciplinarity. However, foreign experts suggest it is not enough to share and combine. They say the whole subject should be rebuilt on transdisciplinarity by linking the disciplines together in a new way. “That way we are more and more aware of the limits of each branch involved in this field,” says Miovský. “The future is in interconnection and cross-disciplines. There will be no more isolated pharmacologists, geneticists, epidemiologists, hepatologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and so on. We must all respond to the changing needs of patients, look for new topics in the science and create multidisciplinary teams. That’s what we are already doing, and in a way that I hope is quite easy to understand. Thus we’re showing the way addictology may, and probably will, go forward in the future.”

Michal Miovský is Chairman and Vice-Dean of the Department of Addictology, Charles University and President of the International Society of Addiction Journal Editors.


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Research at the leading edge Czech addictologists are beginning to be recognized worldwide. Dr Roman Gabrhelík describes some of the latest innovative projects they are leading

Which projects run by the Department of Addictology, Charles University are the most successful? We are just finishing a three-year project with the UK’s Oxford Brookes University aimed at building a network of European academic workplaces that focus on preventive science. For decades, people have tried to make prevention a fully-fledged science with its own scientific approaches and randomized controlled studies, similar to, for example, medical research. These days, prevention is not about visiting classrooms and telling children not to abuse drugs. What we do is implement intervention procedures based on the theory, then retrospectively research their impact and effectiveness. The objective of this project, with the acronym SPAN, is to enable European universities to teach preventive science and increase student mobility across Europe. Cooperation with the University of Hamburg in Germany has started within the European network ERANID in a project focused on methamphetamine

users. It explores how to increase the success rate in treatment, maps the habits of the users and provides a clearer picture of their lives. There are about five international projects in this field each year. Our department is quite active in these and fairly successful in getting the funding. The problem is that European Commission projects need co-funding – we have to find a different source for about 20–40% of the funds. We have had to reject some projects because we didn’t have the co-funding. In recent years it was offered by the Ministry of Education, but no longer. Are you starting a new project now? We managed to negotiate a project in cooperation with colleagues from the University of Oslo and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. In the Scandinavian countries they have health registers of mortality, newborn children, the hospitalized, oncologic diseases and substitution treatment just as we do in the Czech Republic. We want to use this information.


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These days, prevention is not about visiting classrooms and telling children not to abuse drugs. What we do is implement intervention procedures based on the theory, then retrospectively research their impact and effectiveness

The project is focused on monitoring abusers who are mothers and the immediate impact on the foetus and the newborn child. We monitor the basic data – weight, height, Apgar score and so on. As we are able to pair a mother and a child, we can consider what we know about the mother-abuser in pregnancy and before, and make estimation of the possible immediate and long-term impact of the drugs on the child. What is your personal field of interest? I’m a researcher in the study of the effectiveness of two preventive interventions for school kids in the 6th and 7th form. This is the first rigorous research of its kind in the Czech Republic. We have a group of schools that use preventive interventions and two control groups of schools. We monitor children in all three groups over a long period, and over the years we’re finding out how much the gap opens between the group with the interventions and the other two groups. So how big was the difference between these groups? It depends on the specific addictive substance. We started monitoring the children when they were 11 and continued until they were 15. At this age, the number of children exhibiting risky behaviour isn’t that big. We saw the effects in several individuals in a single class. When we counted how many children from a class were using substances, the intervention had a positive effect on one to four children per class over the period of three or four years. An interesting finding was that the intervention had a delayed effect – the further we were from the initial monitoring, the better the effect was, so the gap between the two groups was increasing. Of course, it’s all mere theory. We can only make an assumption as to whether the effect will continue to increase or stop. But it may well grow. Did you find any other interesting data during the research? We found there were differences between boys and girls. For cannabis, boys are less susceptible to the effects of preventive programmes than girls, but for tobacco it’s the other way round.

We should therefore adapt the programmes to these findings. There was also the question of whether all the kids had the same benefit from our intervention, and using rather sophisticated statistical procedures, we found the answer was yes. That meant the change affected both extremely at-risk children and those in very good situations. Do any of the projects work directly with addicted people? With one of my students we want to explore the effectiveness of interventions over their phones and through the internet on tobacco-addicted clients – it’s called eHealth and mHealth. When somebody decides to stop smoking, they can install an app on their smart phone to help them fight the craving. It can even help if the client fails and lights up once. The client reports their failure and receives a series of electronic interventions, or they may be recommended expert assistance. During the year, we should be able to prepare a randomized controlled study with the results of the research.

Roman Gabrhelík is Head of the Prevention Centre at the Department of Addictology, Charles University, focusing on the primary prevention of the use of addictive substances, treatment of methamphetamine addiction and harm reduction.


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Making the grade as an addictologist The only way to meet all the requirements to become a professional addictologist in the Czech Republic is to enrol at Charles University, as Senior Lecturer Dr Jiří Libra explains

What is the typical profile of your graduates, and what degree do they get as you are part of the Faculty of Medicine? Our bachelor’s degree graduates are non-medical healthcare professionals. Their profile corresponds to the skills of a consultant, able to help navigate clients with addiction-related problems through the services that are useful and important for them. And the bachelor’s graduates can of course continue into a master’s programme. The important thing is that the bachelor’s degree provides a licence to work as a healthcare professional – an addictologist. The master’s programme is a bonus, building on some of the skills of the bachelor’s degree. These include consulting services that enable long-term work with patients and skills related to social work, case management, orientation in social policy and public healthcare issues. For the first time addictologists at the First Faculty of Medicine can study a field with content corresponding to the knowledge and skills of a generic professional in mental health. Of course, most emphasis is put into the understanding of addiction-related issues and disorders, but the study is also good training for consultants and therapists who may well fit into teams of mental health professionals. Among graduates there are also long-standing psychiatric nurses who say the study has given them what they missed in their training and practice. They typically mean the holistic approach, emphasis

For the first time addictologists at the First Faculty of Medicine can study a branch with content corresponding to the knowledge and skills of a generic professional in mental health

on individual care, the bio-psycho-sociospiritual model and the importance of rehabilitation and follow-up care. Your offer of courses is quite rich. Is it possible to cover it with your own employees, or do you use external services? There are more than 60 teachers at the Department of Addictology. About 20 of them are delegated by the faculty as teachers of the same medical field. More than 20 are our internal teachers who largely contribute to the research projects of the clinic. Then there are 20 part-time teachers, important experts in their respective fields. Some of them are PhD students who teach either independently or as assistants to associate professors or professors. In practical education, our students are taken care of by staff members of services who organize internships and trainings. How big is the field? Each study group consists of 30 students. In the early years the number decreases, especially due to the demands of medical courses, and about two thirds of the original students usually make it to graduation. The master’s programme admits 30 students and here, the reasons to terminate studies are likely to be personal or professional. The atmosphere in the study group is also important. Sometimes the whole group gets the degree, while at other times it’s only a half. And then there’s the PhD study. So we have three years of the bachelor’s


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Jiří Libra is Deputy Head for education of the Department of Addictology, Charles University. His professional interests include case management as the best way to provide health and social services and effective factors in group psychotherapy.

programme and two years of the master’s, with full-time and part-time study in all years. At present, we have some 220 to 230 active students. And what about PhD studies? At present we have 19 PhD students, including six foreign ones, studying in English. The doctoral programme is quite new for us, having started in 2012, so we’re still getting used to it. And it’s also a kind of test of the academic soundness of the field – I’m now talking about the accreditation requirements. The important question is how many associate professors there will be in the field in the near future. Currently two habilitation processes are underway, and soon the department should have three associate professors – full-time internal employees of the clinic. What is the typical motivation of applicants for this field? Many talk about their private reasons, about the addiction-related problems in their surroundings. For others, it’s just an interesting field. Some wanted to study psychology but switched to addictology due to the number of applicants, but also due to practical courses which are missing in the syllabus of psychology studies. Some openly say that it’s not their plan to work with addicted people, but they are interested in the topic anyway, and it’s a challenge for them to deal with the essential

courses including anatomy, physiology and human biology. A person who suffers or has suffered from addiction-related problems can be found in any wider family. Some students themselves have had such problems and decided to explore it thoroughly. What feedback do graduates get in their professional practice regarding their education? It varies. Some people doubt whether this branch is useful or just a groundless vision. Others welcome it with respect and open minds. There are heads of hospital departments who tell us they need more addictologists. An organization that helps clients in the sex business says they absolutely need a new addictologist to join their team as many of their clients suffer from addiction-related

problems. Our graduates work in psychiatric hospitals and various social services. Of course, the feedback regarding graduates of the new field isn’t always positive. Some professionals are concerned that addictologists might be tough new competition, threatening their own positions. Some talk about the medicalization of the field, which could narrow the understanding of addiction-related issues. There have been discussions about who should handle addiction. However, these discussions are only natural. It’s essential that they are free, open and based on facts. The establishment of the addictology branch at the Faculty of Medicine opens a host of new possibilities and opportunities, for example in the field of international cooperation or the development of research.


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Help is at hand for the younger generation A facility for supporting children and young people with addiction problems is showing results, says Lenka Richterová Surveys in the recent past revealed that like other cities Prague lacked a specialized outpatient care centre for children and young people with addiction issues. That is why the Outpatient Department for Child and Youth Addictology opened on July 1, 2014 as a pilot project, run by the Department of Addictology, Charles University. One of the people working with clients there is a graduate from the bachelor’s programme, Lenka Richterová, who is also involved in a much wider range of activities in the field. In the first year of her degree course, Richterová took part in a research project at the clinic focusing on the impact of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) on certain psychological functions, life skills and quality of life of clients being treated for addiction in therapeutic communities.

As she proved her skills and a nurse had just left the outpatient department, Lenka was offered her position. Now she has been working there for more than a year and has developed her own clients. “However,” she points out, “I’m under team and individual supervision with all clients to ensure my work is safe for everybody.” The outpatient department is the first specialized site aimed solely at addiction, addiction-based disorders and related issues affecting children and youth. Most frequent issues are addiction to computers, mobile devices or cannabis, although some clients have already started experimenting with hard drugs. The average age of clients is about 15 and most live in or around Prague. There are three stages in the addictology outpatient department’s basic operations. The initial diagnostics stage includes comprehensive assessment of each patient.

Most frequent issues are addiction to computers, mobile devices or cannabis, although some clients have already started experimenting with hard drugs


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If the patient is then admitted to outpatient care, they are presented with a detailed proposal for an individual treatment plan. Finally, treatment and rehabilitation involves all the essential steps addictology can offer, including individual and group therapy. “It’s great that something like this exists,” Richterová says, “as many problems can be addressed early, when they still can be treated easily. “After 20 years of addiction, the treatment is always long and difficult. Sometimes a child is brought by anxious parents who are afraid that he or she may have already developed an addiction, but fortunately it’s not the case. Even so, it’s good for them to show up and consult over their problem, just to open the discussion.” It’s not easy to describe the limits of addiction. There is a problem if the child has trouble functioning normally in other areas – school grades go bad, or they are sleepy and unpleasant in the morning, they have no social contacts or are aggressive when you take their computer away. Risk factors in the family include a hyper-protective mother and an absent father. Therapy is always conducted in cooperation with the parents, but the child has to be willing to go along with it. The meetings take place over about a year, and sometimes the client or the family repeatedly asks for help. “First, we always try to find out what the child’s problem is and what he or she would like to change,” says Richterová. “The addiction is prone to relapsing, but we don’t take it as a failure. On the contrary, we really appreciate when the children themselves ask for help because they are going through difficult times and need our support.” The work in the outpatient department is really rewarding for Richterová, and she would like to increase her workload. “Every story is very interesting for me, which is what I enjoy most about my job. Every day is a surprise. I never know in advance what the client will talk about.”

When the Czech Association of Addictology Students was set up last year Richterová was involved from the start and now she is vice-chair. “It seemed to us that there were many interesting people working in the field, and it would be good to meet them regularly,” she says. “First, the faculty offered us the possibility of organizing sessions in the academic club, and then we were asked to make our activities a bit more official, so the association was formed.” Now the association consists of 40 students mainly from the junior years of addictology courses. Two months ago the members contacted the Portuguese branch of the European Institute of Studies on Prevention (IREFREA) which carries out a very interesting peer intervention project during student festivals. Students walk in the streets at night during the festivities and intervene to reduce the negative effects of alcohol. In the past, drunken students sometimes damaged public transport on their way home from the

Lenka Richterová is an addictologist in the Outpatient Department of Child and Youth Addictology, Charles University and Vice-Chair of the Czech Association of Addictology Students.

festivals, so the city council decided to stop the trams for the night. But this meant the visitors resorted to driving which resulted in an increase in fatal road accidents. However, the Portuguese had an idea: if they gave away lollipops at tram stops, the students’ blood sugar level would increase, reducing their drunkenness. They also got something to have fun with, so they didn’t feel the urge to destroy. “We would like to take inspiration from that and try similar interventions at our festivals,” says Richterová. There are no limits to this kind of suggestion among the members, and some have already been taken up. “A girl student suggested we could publish our own magazine, so that’s what we‘re doing now. Its name is The Mag (Časák) and it offers interesting interviews, reports, information on projects and so on. Another student brought some designs of  T-shirts, so members can buy shirts and also sweatshirts with the logo of the association,” says Richterová.


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13 ×

1853

about addictology

Invention of hypodermic needle

1859

23 903

Cocaine isolated for the first time

clients used sobering-up stations in 2014

4.

Czechs came fourth in global alcohol consumption according to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), drinking more than 11 litres per person per year.

22 %

of 14-15-year-olds said they had smoked a cigarette in the past 30 days

1909

Alcohol treatment centre established in Moravia


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1951

31 %

Associate Professor Jaroslav Skála establishes a sobering-up station

of people between 15 and 64 have used an illegal drug at least once

36 400

estimated number of methedrine (meth) users in the Czech Republic in 2014

¼

of Czech adult population has used cannabis-based substances at least once

87 %

of the Czech population consider alcohol consumption acceptable

1843

The oldest preserved document on the establishment of a registered self-help association for drinkers in Czech lands and Moravia

1948

Specialized inpatient ward for research and treatment of alcoholism at the Clinic of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Charles University Source: 2014 Annual Report: The Czech Republic Drug Situation (Czech National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction)


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Getting one’s own voice back A team of Czech researchers hope to improve the lives of people suffering from voice disorders and help them get back their own individual voices. Dr Ivo Klepáček, a member of the interdisciplinary team, explains how to Petra Adámková TEXT BY Petra Adámková  phOTO by Jiří Hroník

A vocal cord is the narrow part of the larynx that enables the development of voice. During exhalation, the air flows through the rima glottidis – the opening between the true vocal cords and the arytenoid cartilages – and judders the folds, thereby making a sound that develops into the individual human voice.

Vocal cords oscillate more than a million times every day, and the air within them can move at the speed of a hurricane – about 180 km/h. Is it possible to replicate such a complex structure and give patients an artificial replacement when they lose their natural and original voice? That’s the challenge enthusiastically taken up by an interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers including Dr Ivo Klepáček of the Institute of Anatomy at the First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University. “Our goal is to simplify the anatomy of vocal cords so they can be modelled by technology to allow people to use them to speak in their own voice,” says Klepáček. The team doing the basic research into individual vocal cord replacement come from four independent Czech institutions. It is led by Professor Tomáš Vampola of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the Czech Technical University. “Our principal objective is to make living easier for people with voice disorders and help them get back their own individual voices they were used to. We want to avoid regular repeat operations and changes of the replacements which can upset patients,” says Klepáček. Maintaining human dimensions in research Klepáček’s first task was helping to correct the way the engineers imagined the human body. “From my point of view, the great benefit of this project is that it has maintained human dimensions from the start. “As a layman, I know engineers tend to test everything on large models, but here, close cooperation with anatomists started right from the outset with the idea that we should be able to adjust the size of the suggested structure, and, if possible, look at the possibilities of inserting the replacement into the human body.

“Numerous views and assessments indicated that for the best result we should develop a life-sized vocal cord and then model further layers to its structure. This would not imitate the structure of human vocal cords in detail but would be more rudimentary so it could be modified and imitated easily.” Inspired by human tissue Klepáček says the team was inspired by human tissue as well as models used for teaching, and by techniques of special fixation that could be used to verify the layered structure of the human vocal cord, feasibility of replacements, and ability to insert the artificial vocal cord into the larynx. The basic requirement was to identify functional differences between the layers of the real vocal cord, reduce their number as much as possible, and thus enable them to be modelled using various materials. All in life size, so the patients using such replacements could keep their individual voices. “This is the principal goal in the future. The interesting thing for me was that the team members visited each other at their workplaces, so they could develop better understanding of their respective views of the solutions, and of different approaches of other branches”, says Klepáček. Imitate vibrations to individualize the voice He says the replacement is becoming suitable in anatomic terms and the structure has been layered to allow the team to model some predictable sounds on it. “The trick is being able to imitate the vibrations that correspond to the scale of the human voice, so the voice can be individualized. As far as I’m concerned, the project is now approaching the stage of material and functional development at the Czech Technical


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Ivo Klepáček is a comparative anatomist and Assistant Professor at the Institute of Anatomy, First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University. He works with an interdisciplinary team led by Professor Tomáš Vampola, from the Czech Technical University, researching individual vocal cord replacement.

University and in the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry. “Material and functionality are the key elements at this stage. We‘re still in a theoretical, fully pre-clinical phase. There will be tests on animals first, before testing the tolerance of the replacement in the human body. “Then we have to examine the way of attachment, assess whether it’s possible to remove mucus from the replacement, whether it’s sufficiently infection-resistant, and when would be the right time to insert it. “As a medical doctor, I appreciate that the flexible material can be programmed in layers, and that each layer has its predefined features and qualities; thus, the replacement is getting close to the multi-layered human vocal fold. As a comparative anatomist focused on the development, I’m very glad that detailed knowledge of certain human body structures can inspire engineers who can check their ideas against reality.” Attracting backers Klepáček says the next phase involves attracting financial support to take the work forward bearing in mind that other similar research is taking place in other countries. “Much as we cooperate with many other teams, they are still our competitors and we have to protect our work by patents and never stop working. It’s not a citation research; we have verified our results, and the research is realized in human dimensions from the beginning. I like human dimensions,” says Klepáček. Meanwhile work on the vocal cord layers goes on with the team aiming to develop a ligament that could be programmed in its entirety. Making a real-life impact For Klepáček, the project has proved valuable in confirming that the anatomist’s work has a practical, real-life impact. “It’s not a mere theory but also the inspiration for others, whether positive or negative – they have to make a choice. I was also pleased that anatomic views and elements were important in the research from the start, while I was also able to learn from others. “For the first time in my life, I was in the technical test centre. The hall was 20 metres long and 15 metres high, with meters, monitoring devices and turbines everywhere, and there was a tiny larynx in the centre of

it all. The larynx moved and vibrated and I saw that we could make it move.” Klepáček believes that the composition of the team enabled the problem to be solved in full, and the project results have already led to a new Czech patent. Asked where the research was at, he quotes Winston Churchill, who once said: ‘Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning’. “Our goal is to simplify the anatomy of vocal cords so that they can be modelled by technology, so that people can use them to speak in their own voice,” Klepáček says. “We want to make living easier for people with voice disorders and help them get back their own individual voices they were used to.”

We‘re still in a theoretical, fully preclinical phase. There will be tests on animals first, before testing the tolerance of the replacement in the human body


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Seeing the invisible! The Samaritans have lived in the same area continuously for more than two thousand years and recently four of them attended a conference at Charles University. Coorganizer Professor Jan Dušek explains the Samaritans’ history to Petra Köpplová TEXT BY Petra Köpplová Photo by ČTK/AP, The Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Barry Britnell


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Biblical scholars find it very interesting to study the differences between the Jewish and Samaritan versions of the Pentateuch

Jan Dušek is head of the History and Interpretation of the Bible Centre of Excellence and a researcher in the Centre for Biblical Studies at the Protestant Theological Faculty, Charles University.

The Samaritans once formed a big religious community, flourishing mainly in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC in the former northern Israeli Kingdom with Samaria as the capital. According to the Old Testament the kingdom was destroyed by the Assyrian Empire in 722 BC and replaced by the province of Samaria or Samerina. Later its existence was all but ignored in the Bible as the scriptures were written from the viewpoint of neighboring Judea. From the 5th century BC written sources start to appear on the Samaritans who had their temple on the Gerizim Mountain near Nablus in what is now the West Bank. Thus the community was especially important in the Persian and Hellenistic era and then in the Roman and Byzantine age. It was continuously shrinking, but offers interesting medieval history and manuscripts. It was claimed in the 1950s that their community had vanished, but in fact the Samaritans have lived in the area continuously since long before biblical times. This fascinating story was the subject of the 9th congress of the Society for Samaritan Studies, held last year at the Protestant Theological Faculty, Charles University. The conference co-organizer was Jan Dušek, Associate Professor of the Protestant Theological Faculty, Charles University, a specialist in Aramaic inscriptions from the 1st millennium BC. Four members of the Samaritan community attended the event. Dušek discovered the issues surrounding the Samaritans from 4th century Aramaic inscriptions which were the subject of his doctoral thesis at the Paris-Sorbonne University. “It’s true that the Samaritans still weren’t a religious community at that time,” he says, “but I presented some of my results at a conference of the Society for Samari-

tan Studies in 2008, and we have been in contact ever since. I also explored the paleographic analysis of the Aramaic inscriptions in the stones discovered on Mount Gerizim.” Today the Samaritans live in Palestine, yet it is said that their lives were saved by the establishment of the State of Israel. Most of them obtained Israeli citizenship and after 1948 their second capital was established in the Israeli town of Holon. “They migrate between these two places and always try to be on good terms with whoever is ruling Palestine,” says Dušek. “This community simply cannot exist without Mount Gerizim.” An important source for the history of Biblical texts and history is the Samaritan Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament in the Hebrew and Christian bibles. Biblical scholars find it very interesting to study the differences between the Jewish and Samaritan versions of the Pentateuch. Part of the texts discovered in the 20th century in Qumran on the Dead Sea shore correspond to the Hebrew Bible to some extent, but another part corresponds to the Samaritan Pentateuch. Researchers focus on different parts to find out which are older. “Of course, it’s a question whether the older text is the Samaritan Pentateuch with its reference to Mount Gerizim, or the Hebrew version, without these explicit references,” says Dušek. “Some sources show that Mount Gerizim references, as in the Samaritan Ten Commandments, appeared after the Hebrew Bible, but in other places, for example Deuteronomy 27‚4, the Hebrew version probably includes the corrected original text preserved in the Samaritan Pentateuch. “This Samaritan version says that once the Israeli tribes reach the Promised Land, → Gerthey should build an altar on Mount


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The Tel Dan Stele

How can people learn epigraphy?

izim to make their sacrifices and write the words of the Law on it. The Hebrew version refers not to Gerizim but to Mount Ebal nearby.” The main subject of Dušek’s work is Aramaic epigraphy in the 1st millennium BC. The never-ending Syrian conflict and instability of the region is fatal for researchers, but in the most populous Syrian city of Aleppo and in the capital Damascus, there are hopefully still exquisite collections in the museums. “I’ve been working on the Aramaic inscriptions from the iron age since 2012,” says Dušek. “That’s when the civil war started. So I can only work with what has been taken to Europe – the inscriptions in the Louvre, Paris, and museums in Berlin. “So far I have been mostly working in the Louvre and the Academy of Paris. I have to try and find old photographic documentation of the inscriptions, and I managed to get access to the imprints of the inscriptions made some time in the 1950s.”

Associate Professor Jan Dušek explains: “You have to read the inscriptions long enough to recognize the shapes of letters typical for different historical eras, and then you start seeing the differences. The best way to learn it is to draw the inscriptions manually on paper. Through the movement of your hand, you gradually start perceiving the shapes of individual letters and their development. “In the best case, the inscription is clearly dated. Manuscripts from the 4th century, for example, are perfect, as most of them were contracts for the slave trade. They include dates based on parallels with the Babylon calendar, so they can be dated accurately to the day. “Undated inscriptions are more difficult. Sometimes they can only be dated based on the analysis of the writing. In some cases, it’s almost as if we could see the stonemasons at work. Sometimes it’s easy to see that an inscription was made by at least two people. “First was the scribe, who could write and made a sketch on the stone. I even managed to discover such an inscription, sketched and not carved, though I still haven’t published it. Then came the stonemason whose task was to finish the inscription, but it seems he sometimes could hardly read and didn’t understand the sketch – he just carved the pictures and sometimes used a wrong letter.”

In the best-case scenario, the complete transcript and comments on the inscriptions would be verified using the original. This has proved possible on several occasions at the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres in Paris, home of the documentation related to many inscriptions discovered in the 19th and 20th century. “In the past two years I’ve been working mainly on several inscriptions discovered in the 1930s in Sefire near Aleppo,” says Dušek. “They weren’t found at any official excavation site – at one time in that decade, they simply appeared on the antiquity market. Some antiquarians in Aleppo offered them for sale, and then they disappeared for 20 years. It wasn’t until after the Second World War that one of them was purchased for a museum in Beirut and a further two for a museum in Damascus.” What had happened to the stones before that time is anyone’s guess, yet they bear the longest inscriptions available in the ancient Aramaic dialect, concerning the contracts

between two states and kings around Aleppo which had been agreed some time in the mid 8th century BC just before the Assyrian Empire conquered the entire area and destroyed all the small kingdoms. At those times, the kings made bilateral contracts defining their mutual rights and responsibilities, and Dušek believes that they were close neighbors, as the inscriptions define their duties in case of assault. These include, for example, supplies of food under siege, help in maintaining access to water and maintaining passage and free access for messengers. He says they probably saw the danger coming and felt the need to unite and cooperate on shared defence, still a hot topic in our own times.


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Photo: A Samaritan with the manuscript of the Samaritan Pentateuch. In 1980s, the Israeli archeologist Jicchak Magen made excavations right on the summit of Mount Gerizim. He discovered Aramaic inscriptions and dated them between approximately the 5th and 2nd centuries BC. However, Associate Professor Duťek used his own paleographic analysis of the published photographs and formed the view that these inscriptions date back to the early 2nd century BC.


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Mice enter the post-genome era Research using mice by a team including Professor Pavel Stopka of Charles University’s Zoology Department is throwing light on how proteins work, which could be helpful for human medical studies. Michal Andrle reports TEXT BY Michal Andrle  phOTO by Jiří Hroník, Pavel Stopka’s archive

Mice are extremely important for research in the fields of biology and medicine because they are so genetically close to humans – the similarity of coding sequences between us and rodents is typically between 95–99%. But today’s laboratory mice have lost many of the characteristics of their wild cousins, being a hybrid of three subspecies of the wild house mouse, one of which got

into the gene pool more or less accidentally. Other modifications of genetic information in laboratory mice have occurred through inbreeding. This is crucial for Professor Pavel Stopka of Charles University’s Zoology Department. He works at the Biotechnology and Biomedicine Centre of the Academy of Sciences and Charles University in Vestec,

Czech Republic (BIOCEV), and recently published a study in the journal Scientific Reports on the proteome of mouse cavities. It focuses primarily on proteins associated with signalling and immune response. “For us to use the mouse as a model, we need to know the composition of its proteome”, Stopka explains. “Only then will we be able to focus on individual fam-


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Pavel Stopka is Associate Professor at the Zoology Department of the Faculty of Science, Charles University. He also works at the Biotechnology and Biomedicine Centre of the Academy of Sciences and Charles University in Vestec (BIOCEV).

ilies and analyse the function of individual proteins. In our research we use the Eastern European house mouse, mus musculus musculus. Our study is the first in the area of functional mouse genomics that works with wild animals.” “Most biomedical research is conducted on laboratory mice. But because of crossbreeding and inbreeding these mice have lost many of the characteristics we find in wild mice. It is important for us to discover proteins that are practically unknown in laboratory mice.” The enormous advance in the speed and availability of sequencing technology in recent years means that we now possess data on the genomes of a very diverse range of organisms, but we know far less about the related sequences of amino acids and actual proteins. The mouse genome is already well mapped. It consists of between 20‚000 and 22‚000 sequences that are presumed to encode functional proteins. However, no functional protein has yet been found for the overwhelming majority of these. The current proteome research of the oral cavity is a continuation of the longterm interest of Stopka and his team in the proteins involved in chemical communi-

cation, particularly within species. These proteins are found in numerous body fluids in mice and are released on the body’s surface or in urine, tears or saliva. The primary goal is to create a database of the salivary proteome. “During our work we gradually encountered the problem of how to compare the amount of proteins in a sample,” he explains. “We therefore began using liquid chromatography combined with mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). The results surprised us. After thoroughly filtering the data statistically, we identified more than 600 different types of protein in saliva, which was more than twice the amount we expected. “An even greater surprise was that nearly 21% were gender-specific, occurring much more frequently in males than in females.” There are other new discoveries the work has revealed to the scientific community. It was shown that saliva contains a number of proteins with very diverse functions. Some of these act, for example, as transporters of waste products from the nasal epithelium. This is often performed by lipocalins, which otherwise bind chemical signals (odorant-binding proteins, OBP). Toxic-waste products, which are further

transported to the digestive system, are bound to specific receptors called beta-baskets. A number of proteins expressed in the oral cavity also have an immunity function. “We have significantly expanded the spectrum of antimicrobial proteins, especially those from the family of BPI proteins which disrupt bacterial membranes,” says Stopka. “This is a very old evolutionary mechanism that protects organisms from pathogens. We are presently testing these proteins in vitro in various cultures including non-pathogenic bacteria.” As a number of proteins present in mouse salivary gland products take part in immune responses, they can be used as biomarkers for various immune processes in the body. Healthy and sick mice can then easily be identified based only on their different proteomic profiles. Numerous proteins, including certain lipocalins, can be used as biomarkers for the oestrous cycle of a female. “This is quite significant for other biomedical research,” says Stopka. “Until now, the oestrous cycle has primarily been determined through vaginal flushing. During this procedure however, infections were easily passed into the genital tract, which distorted subsequent findings. By using salivary proteins we can determine the oestrous cycle non-invasively.” Knowledge gained from research on mice may in the future also be helpful for human medical research. Potential biomedical applications are based on the fact that humans (primates) and mice (rodents) share many plesiomorphies and apomorphies that are typical for placental mammals from the group Euarchontoglires. “However, it is often the case that the products of the same gene acquire a different meaning and function in the context of the body of a new group of organisms,” Stopka concludes. “Creating a proteome database is an essential first step in the search for all other functional proteins.”


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Prague relives the Coronation of Charles IV Back in early September 1347, the Roman king Charles of Luxembourg and the French princess Blanche of  Valois became the King and Queen of Bohemia at a ceremony in the Romanesque Spytihnev’s basilica – now St. Vitus’s Cathedral – at the Prague castle TEXT BY Lucie Kettnerová Photo by René Volfík

More recently, in September, historians from Charles University and the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic re-enacted the ceremony in great detail, including the penitential pilgrimage to the Vyšehrad castle on the eve of the coronation. A large crowd assembled for the ceremony, starting on the Saturday morning with Charles IV, played by Miroslav Smaha of the Catholic Theological Faculty, entering Vyšehrad alongside the Prague Archbishop Ernest of Pardubice and several senior noblemen. The latter-day sovereign visited St. Martin’s rotunda and St. Lawrence’s basilica; and as a descendant of the Princes of Bohemia he observed ancient pre-coronation custom by paying homage to the bast shoes and the bag of Prince Přemysl, Primislaus the Ploughman. A holy mass for the homeland followed in the basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, and then the royal torch procession went downtown and back to Prague Castle.

When the procession went past Charles University, Charles IV was greeted by Professor Jan Royt, Vice-Rector for Projects and Publishing. Realistic, but shortened re-enactment The coronation took place on Sunday in the Cathedral of St. Vitus, Wenceslas and Adalbert at Prague Castle with the re-enactment of the ceremony taking almost two hours. At the start, Royt explained the significance of the location: “The spiritual message of this place is especially important as the reverence to the patrons of Bohemia is emphasized here. “The tomb of the Kings of Bohemia is located at the intersection of areas containing the remains of St. Vitus, the patron of Bohemia St. Wenceslas, St. Sigismund and – in the centre of the nave – St. Adalbert, the patron of Prague Archiepiscopate.” He also pointed out that Charles IV was not only crowned but also anointed cleric

“We felt we couldn’t do this to the full extent, as the original coronation – including all the ceremonies – took almost a day and a half. For current participants, even several hours of a mass would be too demanding.”


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St. Martin’s rotunda

and king, like David and Solomon. In this way, he imitated the kings of France anointed in Reims by sacred oil allegedly brought by an angel from heaven and used to anoint King David. At 1pm the bells began to ring and the procession of church notables, squires, royal entourage, Charles IV and Blanche of  Valois entered the cathedral through the original Golden Gate entrance. Smaha was chief organizer of the event as well as playing the part of Charles IV. He said organizers opted for a shortened version of the original ceremony rather than the full procedure of the Coronation Code of Kings of Bohemia.

He said: “Our objective was to re-enact the medieval coronation liturgy and revive, as much as possible, the atmosphere of the ceremony that binds the sovereign to following Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, by a just reign. “We felt we couldn’t do this to the full extent, as the original coronation – including all the ceremonies – took almost a day and a half. For current participants, even several hours of a mass would be too demanding.” During the re-enactment of the coronation, in accordance with the original procedure, the King was anointed and dressed, the insignia was handed over, and the crown was blessed.

There was the ceremonial service and then the King, in front of the throne, facing God, clerics and people, promised to rule fairly. The coronation of the King was followed by the coronation of the Queen, then by liturgy, and offering of bread, wine and gold.


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Online Encyclopedia presents a mosaic of migration What makes people flee their homelands? And what’s behind mass migration and the current refugee crisis? Where are the refugees coming from, and where are they heading? Petra Adámková looks at a new Czech initiative putting the pieces of the mosaic together to find out TEXT BY Petra Adámková  photo BY UN Photo/OCHA/David Ohana

An ambitious project backed by Charles University as part of the Student Solidarity Movement is helping to find answers to the refugee crisis by creating an Online Encyclopedia of Migration. Launched last autumn – with support from the University’s Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Social Sciences, Faculty of Humanities, Protestant Theological Faculty and Faculty of Law – the Online Encyclopedia of Migration is available (in Czech at this stage) at encyklopedie.org. The first version displays an interactive map of the world, comprehensively showing migration to Europe in three main streams:

from Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa since 2010. The encyclopedia attempts to interpret current migration trends to Europe and investigates the roots and reasons that motivate people to get moving and covers most of the 20th century. Improve understanding of complex issues The interactive map of the world displays pictures – symbols of different topics. Click on them to reveal relevant issues, links, entries and comments showing wider and wider context, and thus improve under-

standing of the more profound and complex issues surrounding mass migration. The symbols don’t necessarily correspond to a geographic point; some of them may represent a theoretical entry – phenomena, explanation of values, of nationalism and so forth. The first click on a picture reveals the basic topics, the information that should be seen instantly. At the end of the text there are links to related topics. Users should go deeper and deeper with every click – symbols act as signposts with most of the content is hidden under the map. The structure of the encyclopedia is like a tree with branches,


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leading the reader from the most important entries to the more marginal ones. Jakub Múčka of the Faculty of Arts, Charles University is the main project coordinator. He says: “The objective of the encyclopedia is to enable the widest possible group of readers to understand migration-related issues. For this reason, the entries are concise and simple, trying to answer the most frequently asked questions in our society.” The map will be complemented by an index to help users to search for specific entries or problems and the text will be animated by charts and illustrations. The encyclopedia of migration already includes videos with academic experts commenting on specific topics. It also presents specific stories of refugees and a video is being made with Dr Dana Moree, head of the Department of Civil Society Studies, the Faculty of Humanities, on identity and integration. Cooperation with other initiatives, such as the Talking Heads project at the Faculty of Arts, is under way and the authors would like to work with other partners as they intend to act as a hub to navigate readers to find answers to their questions. The authors of the encyclopedia hope to involve other organizations, such as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Amnesty International. To improve credibility, every paper is signed by its author and/or consultant. “All authors participate in the preparation of the encyclopedia as volunteers,” says Múčka, who adds: “We have managed to get some financial reward for teachers and students for each entry, and we believe we

“We have managed to get some financial reward for teachers and students for each entry, and we believe we will find more funding sources in the future to take the project further.”

Jakub Múčka of the Faculty of Arts, Charles University is the main project coordinator. He studies at the Department of East European Studies.

will find more funding sources in the future to take the project further.” “Due to its structure, the encyclopedia can expand to other branches and fields to become an enormous mosaic made of illuminating shards of information.” Big objective is an English version Another big objective is an English version of the encyclopedia of migration, which the project would like to launch before the end of 2016. Múčka says: “We have contacted the Department of English and American studies and we’re finding out whether the students could be interested.” Selection of topics and entries, and the coordination of the Online Encyclopedia of Migration, has been carried out in workgroups of students, according to their specialization, in consultations with their respective departments since January 2016. Most of the entries are written by teachers, and the texts are edited in the seminar Language Editing of the Online Encyclopedia of Migration, led by Michal Hořejší at the Institute of Czech Language and Theory of Communication, Faculty of Arts, Charles University. Due to its popularity among students, the seminar continued into this winter semester as well.

Anyone can take part Múčka says: “Migration-related issues are broad; they involve many related fields and potential entries. I believe our project is really useful, but also demanding and ambitious. “Everybody who wants to join the team is welcome to take part in the preparation and development of the Online Encyclopedia of Migration, whatever their field. In return, participants will get a lot of experience in interdisciplinary cooperation, new competences and perspectives, the ability to see a phenomenon in a broad context and from many viewpoints – which is really appreciated by the teachers. They will also get some financial reward. “At the end of the day, is there any other opportunity for a professional in Arab studies to consult the text with a theologist, who is seeking advice from a political scientist and an imam?” asks.

encyklopedie.org

…every 113th person in the world is currently either an asylum seeker, an internally displaced person, or a refugee… source: http://bit.ly/2bJDmsf


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New challenges on the road from Damascus Within a day Malek Azar left his troubled homeland of Syria to study at Charles University – first graduating as a pharmacist before obtaining a research post with the Faculty of Pharmacy based in the Bohemian town of Hradec Králové. Here Petra Köpplová hears about his new life in one of the most beautiful towns in the Czech Republic TEXT BY Petra Köpplová  photo BY René Volfík

It took just a few hours for Malek Azar to move from Damascus to the Czech Republic to get his career as a successful scientist back on track by enrolling as an international student at the Hradec Králové campus of Charles University. Now completing a doctoral programme, he is working at the Department of Biophysics and Physical Chemistry in the Faculty of Pharmacy, helping in the development of mathematical models of drug pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. Why did you decide to move to the Czech Republic? Back in Syria I started studying pharmacy, but I was unable to continue because of the difficult situation in the country. So I moved to the Czech Republic and graduated as a pharmacist from Charles University. Then I got the opportunity to continue with my PhD studies, and I was happy to accept. I also have a brother in Olomouc in Moravia. He is a PhD student, too, and a dentist. As he had already studied in Czech Republic, I could ask him about the system and the universities. What was the most difficult part of moving to a different country? The hardest part was probably the rapid shift from Asia to Europe in a single day. Another thing is the language – people on the street usually don’t speak English very well. The first two weeks were really hard, because I needed to get my papers and

documents sorted and even the staff in the public offices didn’t speak much English. I also miss my family and I call my parents every day. Back at home we were living in the same house, I had many friends in our neighborhood and I used to be very close to all of them. Then I just moved – within a single day – and now I’m here. I really miss my friends, my brothers and sisters. What are you currently focusing on with your research? At the Department of Biophysics and Physical Chemistry, I’m mainly focused on the combination of two types of biophysics – from the mathematical and pharmacological point of view. It’s really interesting for me to combine these two fields and we are developing mathematical models of drug pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. You won a prize in the faculty scientific student conference. So does your work include practical science and development as well as theoretical studies? For a long time, I was part of the team at the Department of Pharmaceutical Technology. There, we focused more on the industrial and production-related aspects of pharmacology. I had a really great supervisor; together we could present our research very well. Of course, a certain amount of luck was necessary, but we worked really hard on our project and we finished second at the fac-

ulty’s student research conference in 2016, which I personally consider to be a great success. I am really happy. It was a new experience to me and I had the opportunity to show other people what we are working on and how we are trying to develop something new. At the same time, I was looking for fresh challenges, so I moved my research to the Department of Biophysics and Physical Chemistry. As a first year PhD student, I can only say that we will try to do our best to accomplish our goals. What we’re trying to do is use mathematics to predict what is happening in our bodies. If we succeed, it could help us and other scientists avoid a lot of unnecessary work in labs, which would be really useful. Are there any special drugs you are researching? Yes. We have to begin with something specific, so we began with the effects of the drug called Rifampicin, also known as rifampin,

What we’re trying to do is use mathematics to predict what is happening in our bodies. If we succeed, it could help us and other scientists avoid a lot of unnecessary work in labs, which would be really useful


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Malek Azar started studying pharmacology in Damascus, Syria, and completed his undergraduate studies at Charles University, where he is now completing a doctoral programme.

in our metabolism. This drug affects the metabolism by activating a cell receptor that in turn stimulates the development of certain metabolic enzymes. We believe we are the first to be researching this phenomenon and that nobody has done this before. Do you cooperate with faculties in Prague? Yes, we do. My supervisor is a staff member of the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, and also of the Academy of Sciences. In my opinion, the connection of two great faculties within a great university is a really good idea. Why did you decide to settle in Hradec when you came to the Czech Republic? And are you planning to stay or move on? I came to Hradec because the Faculty of Pharmacy is a part of Charles University. And for me, Charles University is one of the best universities in the world. It’s the oldest one in Central Europe and that was really appealing to me. I got a grant from the Ministry and from Charles University, both very generous. I don’t believe I could find such perfect conditions anywhere else in the world.

Hradec is also one of the most beautiful towns in the Czech Republic. It’s not as big as Prague and I enjoy the accessibility – you can go everywhere by bike and it does not take you more than a couple of minutes. You cannot do this in Prague. Hradec is a great city for students, and it provides great opportunities for life. But the main reason I’m in Hradec is that my faculty is here. If it was in Prague, I suppose I would probably stay in Prague. Did you consider moving your whole family to Czech Republic? It’s complicated! My parents are quite satisfied in Syria. They live in a town called Qatana. It’s near Damascus, actually a suburb of the capital. I think this area is much safer than other places. I also think it would be really hard for them to come here and integrate into this culture. The language is difficult – I have been here for two years but I still prefer to speak English. The other thing is the food. Czech food is good, sometimes it is really interesting to me. Still, I miss our cuisine – we have different types of tastes and I miss this variety.

I miss, for example, the meal called yaprak. It consists of boiled vine leaves stuffed with rice and meat. Can’t you cook it here, at home? Well I suppose I could, but you need one main ingredient for this meal and that is patience. That’s why I couldn’t cook it even in Syria. It takes a lot effort to form those little packages out of vine leaves and to stuff them. Patience? Your research is probably built on patience. Yes, it is. I am very patient in my research, but I don’t have enough patience to cook for the whole day. So I prefer to go to the refectory, and I’ve already got used to it. How do you see your future? Do you want to stay in Czech Republic after you get your PhD? Well, nothing is for sure at the moment. So for now, I solely focus on our project, but I’m probably going to continue working at the university. Teaching new pharmacists is really important to me.


40 students Forum 02

Café VeloBloud roams through Prague Four students who came to Prague to study have launched a social business – a mobile café in the form of a tricycle staffed by homeless people. Here Lucie Kettnerová finds out more about Cafe VeloBloud from the project’s coordinator Zsofia Folkova, a student of the Faculty of Law, Charles University TEXT BY Lucie Kettnerová Photo by René Volfík

How did you get the idea of a non-conventional roaming café? We’re all from Slovakia and several of our group had worked with homeless people – but only as volunteers, distributing food or clothes. We wanted to do more to help. First, we thought about giving away coffee, or let the clients give away coffee to each other. Then we decided to look for something that could actively help homeless people. Passive help, such as giving away food and clothes, is OK but we wanted to help people start making their own living. The result was a café on a

tricycle, which we believe is not only feasible but also a potentially profitable model for a social business. Do you know of any similar models of self-help? Yes, there are similar projects. There’s a mobile café in London, but it’s a car, so the running costs are higher. I’ve seen some cafés on a tricycle but I don’t know of any that involve helping people. And our financial model is more interesting – our employees will not only be paid a salary but they will also get half any profit


41 students Forum 02

they generate. With this, it’s already possible to help solve some of the issues related to running the venture and overcoming challenges many of our employees are likely to face. Once all debts are paid in setting up the business, the homeless people will get to keep half of any profit generated. We expect their income will be really reasonable. Does your team include an economist to help you manage things financially? We have prepared our budget for about six months, and we counted everything about 30 times. The team does indeed include an economist and we’ve also had our calculations checked by other friends working in business. So they should be firm. Where did you get the initial capital? Actually, it was, more or less, our savings. But we also found a major investor, now our sleeping partner. Also we managed to get support from various businesses, such as suppliers of coffee makers or bicycles, who offered us their products at largely reduced prices. A tricycle with the necessary equipment would normally cost about 15,000 Euro, yet we only paid eleven thousands. Can you run the café at any weather, even a Prague winter? Up to five below zero it’s possible, even though a coffee maker needs more time to warm up when it’s freezing like that. But if it gets colder, we don’t want anybody to freeze to death behind the handlebars. It’s worth mentioning that employees will get their salaries even though they are not at work if is too cold, as we want them to be able to pay their taxes and bills. We therefore take it as our duty to support them even when the weather is really bad. Do you already have a plan how to get more funding? Not long ago we joined the international crowdfunding site. We want to launch a similar project in Budapest, so it will be good to make presentations to Hungarians as well as to the Czechs. We managed to collect over 1,370 Euro from the public. Right now we’re not sure how to use this money, as we need many things and sometimes it’s hard to agree on priorities. One thing we’re thinking about is a small engine for the tricycle, as the whole set weighs in at about 300 kg and it’s quite difficult to move. We would also like to build a small office and get a garage for the tricycle, and all of this needs money.

It’s worth mentioning that employees will get their salaries even though they are not at work if is too cold, as we want them to be able to pay their taxes and bills. We therefore take it as our duty to support them even when the weather is really bad Are you planning to increase the number of tricycles in the future? Let’s see – it will depend on what marketplace we find in Prague. It’s very important where the mobile café is situated. For example, we sold more coffees at the Open Square Festival than on the bike trail in Modřany throughout the summer. If we find a place to sell about a hundred cups per day, we may earn something like 100 Euro. We would like to operate seven days a week. The running costs of a tricycle are very low, something like 2.50 Euro per day. So if we are lucky and find a good place, we will be able to recruit more employees. Is there a chance to get to an attractive spot, despite the lack of money? We have already visited the town halls at the various city districts. And in Prague 3, for example, the approach was very positive – they promised not to charge us the fee for using the selling spot, providing this motion is passed by the district council. The negotiations also look promising in Prague 7 and Prague 1, but here, the competition is rather tough. Has winning the Social Impact Award recently helped the business? Certainly, it definitely increases our status. What’s more, during the acceleration programme in the summer we got numerous contacts of people who could help us in the future. This was probably the most important part of the project. How did you find your first employee? From the start, we have cooperated with the Salvation Army, as we realized none of us had enough experience with homeless people. I have read about several concepts offering possible solutions to homelessness issues, but I still believe it’s better to talk those who already have experience with the clients we want to work with.

The Salvation Army recommended two potential employees straight away. We, however, decided it would be better to start with a single person only, so we hired Darja. Our first employee is a transsexual, half-Romany and half-Serbian, and he really deserves this opportunity. You’re already a student in the fifth year. Are you planning to continue with the project alongside your daily job, or are you looking for a successor? I hope we’ll manage to develop our project during the next year so I’ll be able to make a living through it. And even if this part doesn’t work, I believe we will make a success of it together. Even now, we are able to substitute for one another if someone has no time. Another option is to hire a new team member in case there is too much work. And our plans don’t stop with the café. In the future, we would like to establish a consulting centre for law, tax and debt issues for the homeless. It would offer a comprehensive set of services – not only for our employees but also for other people. However, without any reasonable practice, I don’t feel I would make a good consultant at this stage. That’s why we would like to approach the faculty and find out about possible means of cooperation.

Zsófia Folková from Slovakia studies law at Charles University and works as a volunteer at Endre Ady Student Club, the League of Human Rights, FairArt, and as an intern at the Budapest law firm Réti, Antall & Partners.


42 students Forum 02

Popularizer and polymath: a man of many talents Scientist, photographer or filmmaker? So far, Petr Jan Juračka has managed to be all three. One of his photographs was chosen as the cover art for a bestselling book, his videos can be seen on Czech TV and he identified a new species of water flea. Lucie Kettnerová met him to find out more TEXT BY Lucie Kettnerová  photo BY Petr J. Juračka’s archive


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Juračka’s picture of Lake Baikal was used as the cover art for Paulo Coelho’s bestseller Aleph. The two met at a press conference when the author visited Prague to celebrate the sale of a million copies of the novel in Czech

You may have seen him on the popular Czech TV magazine show Víkend explaining various interesting scientific phenomena – acute mountain sickness, environmental protection using military technology, or moulds and bacteria living in our bodies. Petr Jan Juračka’s photograph of Lake Baikal in Siberia was chosen as the cover art for Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho’s Aleph, which sold a million copies in Czech and many more worldwide. He recently went on an expedition to K2 in the Himalayas to take photographs, shoot videos and collect scientific data. Juračka is clearly a man of many talents. But he is a scientist first and foremost. In June, he completed his doctoral studies at the Department of Ecology, Faculty of Science, Charles University, with a successful defence of his dissertation Freshwater fishless pools: from metacommunities to systematics. In his research he spent some time in the gorges in the Kokořín area of the Czech Republic, studying how new pools built for the protection of amphibians and invertebrates were populated by these tiny animals. Juračka explains that the research showed how the character of the landscape is an important factor affecting what will live in the location. “The topography of the landscape and the number of habitats near the pools have a big impact on which animals will settle down in the pools and how many of them will live there,” he says. “This is important not only for species that migrate passively – on another animal or airborne – but also for the active ones such as dragonflies, heteropters and beetles.” It was during this study that Juračka identified a completely new species of the genus Cladoceran, commonly known as water fleas, and named it Daphnia hrbaceki after Associate Professor Jaroslav Hrbáček, pioneer of modern Czech hydrobiology. Cladocerans have been studied very thoroughly – they are probably among the

best-researched freshwater organisms – so it came as a surprise that a new species had been found in an area with rich hydrobiological history near Prague. It is not yet known how widespread the newly-discovered species is. Something very similar is featured in a Russian book from the 1920s, and there is mention of it in the 1950s in Rimavská Baň, Slovakia, where an old specimen was found. Some eggs were discovered in the 1990s in Drásov, near Příbram in the Czech Republic. But two years ago only a single individual was

The topography of the landscape and the number of habitats near the pools have a big impact on which animals will settle down in the pools and how many of them will live there known of, kept in a refrigerator in Frankfurt, Germany. Now, however, thanks to Juračka’s discovery, we know they are living continuously in the Kokořín area. Juračka studied the new species on location, from the viewpoint of both ecology and evolutionary biology. During the use of a scanning electron microscope, the dissection method was improved, which Juračka used in another part of his dissertation. During the preparation of samples he tested, for example, new chemical agents to clean the animals of sediments. If you watch eggs that are several hundreds years old, he explains, you do not want any other organic remains on the surface as they cover and obscure important structures. Juračka also tried to disassemble dyed specimens, about a millimetre long, using →


44 students Forum 02

If you want to popularize science, you should have some scientific background, keep in touch with science, and publish, so that you are aware of the nature and scope of scientific work

an eye scalpel, then dry and preserve them for further study. In all of this he greatly benefitted from the support of Kořínek who has studied the taxonomy of cladoceran for more than half a century. Photographing animals and wildlife has been Juračka’s passion since childhood when he used to visit zoos with his father. Recently he had the opportunity to shoot the release of Przewalski’s Horses into the wild in Mongolia and made a series of pictures for the zoo in Jihlava, Czech Republic. He claims to lack patience to wait for the decisive moment, yet he is prepared to stand next to a hippo for an hour and a half waiting for it to yawn. In his TV work, Juračka suggests topics, then writes a brief script, and finally shoots and edits the story, including sound engineering. The only equipment he needs is a camera and a high-end computer. “Until recently, I was a traditional photographer,” he says, “but then I realized it was much more difficult to make a good video than to photograph, because a video should go beyond the obvious attractiveness at the first sight. It should carry a message, a story.” Following his doctoral studies Juračka is staying on at the Faculty of Science to do part-time work supplying photographs and videos from various events for the public relations department, and plans to continue his research at the Department of Ecology with its head Professor Adam Petrusek, his former mentor.

Juračka has taught microscopy at the faculty for several years. He has been head of the Naturalist Photo Club and runs an optional seminar in scientific photography. He wants to do a lot more with his animal photography and popular videos. “If you want to popularize science,” he says, “you should have some scientific background, keep in touch with science, and publish, so that you are aware of the nature and scope of scientific work.” In June, Juračka set out to Mount K2 with Klára Kolouchová, the first Czech woman to have successfully climbed Mount Everest. But while she aimed to reach the summit, Juračka’s objectives were different: he wanted to shoot photos and videos, collect information and research materials for the faculty and prepare another TV show. That is why he took 50 kilos of camera equipment, counting on help from hired porters to get it to the base camp. For the future, Juračka’s curiosity seems to know no bounds. He would like to see Bhutan, Namibia and the Arctic. “My wife says we should make our childhood dreams come true,” he says, “but not all of them and not all at once. Let’s see!”


45 students Forum 02

Petr Jan JuraÄ?ka is a scientist, photographer and filmmaker who won Charles University’s Faculty of Science photographic competition Science Is Beautiful for his shot of the Cladocera bosmina. Recently he has developed his interest in video making as part of his mission to popularize science.

A microscopic image of Daphnia hrbaceki


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The silent beauty of the lush vegetation Text by Ladislav Pavlata photo by René Volfík


Ladislav Pavlata, director of the university’s botanical garden

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Adress Na Slupi 16, 128 01 – Prague 2 GPS N 50.070589 E 14.419823

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The Charles University’s botanical garden opened up in its current location Na Slupi, together with new botanical institutes of the Czech and German university, in 1898. The original garden had been on the Smíchov bank since 1775, but the vast collection had been threatened by frequent floods, so the garden was moved. “Nowadays, the botanical garden has 3‚5 hectares, and presents 4‚500 plant species,” said Ladislav Pavlata, director of the university’s botanical garden. His favorite parts include greenhouses with tropical vegetation, reconstructed in 1990s. He’s particularly fond of romantic niches with lianas, songs of birds and frogs, and also a pond with a giant water lily – Victoria Cruziana. “It’s a wonderful plant, an immense wonder of nature. We sow it every year, and during four months, a seed half a centimeter big grows into a giant individual.” However, the director is sometimes also surprised by the behavior of some visitors. For example, someone put a couple of small orange fish, Midas cichlids, to the pond. And the fish started breed­ ing so excessively that in the end, the garden staff had to deliver them to the zoo in bulks, as food for flamingos.


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A book of fans Edited by Helena Honcoopová, Joshua Mostow, Makoto Yasuhara Karolinum Press, CZK 850, pp. 208 ISBN 9788024625188 Karolinum e-shop, CZK 723

A key symbol in Japanese culture Photo by reproduction from the book

This is a facsimile of an illustrated collection of Japanese poetry from the 16th century with commentary and translations, accompanied by a study of the literary genre of the Book of Fans. The fan is a key cultural symbol in Japanese culture, far more important than in other traditions. From Lady Murasaki to the poet Basho, it figures prominently in Japanese poetry as well as in the theatrical traditions of kabuki and noh, where it is a central stage prop that can symbolize many things. This book tries to revive the long-forgotten Momoyama period genre and is aimed at both the general public and students of Japanese literature and art. Given the unique quality of the four hundred-yearold manuscript, the Book of Fans deserved publication. Dr Helena Honcoopová started working on the project in 1972, returning to it after about 25 years, and the book was made public at the National Museum in Kyoto in 2002. Its great importance was emphasized by a leading expert in the field, Professor Hiroyuki Kano. Comparative research into other Japanese versions of the Book of Fans was continued in Prague by Makoto Yasuhara of Japan’s Rikkyo University. In 2003 she published her analysis in Japan under the title A Study of the Book of Fans – Artistic Literature of Enter-

tainment (Ogi no soshi no kenkyu, asobi no geibun), published by Pelican Books, Tokyo in 2003. She proved that the so-called Prague version of the Book of Fans with about 126 poems was the most complete version of the manuscript in the world. Professor Joshua Mostow of the University of British Columbia in Canada, the highly respected expert on old Japanese poetry, has contributed an introductory study and is responsible for the English language version. The accompanying study, A Summary of the Japanese Poetic Tradition – the Mainstream of Japanese Poetry is excellent as it explains the birth of the waka tradition and many key concepts of the Japanese aesthetic tradition such as utaawase, makurakotoba, engo, kakekotoba and honkadori. It is very illuminating and puts this important work in the context of classical Japanese poetry. Anthony V. Liman Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto, Canada and Professor Emeritus, Otemae University, Japan


51 alumni Forum 35

Simple storytelling, serious topics Štěpán Hulík, a graduate of Charles University’s Department of Film Studies at the Faculty of Arts, has changed Czech cinematography with his screenplays and his works have become the subject of lectures at his alma mater. Petra Köpplová met the author of the scripts of Burning Bush and drama series Wasteland TEXT BY Petra Köpplová  photo BY René Volfík

History plays an important role in your works. What’s keeping you from being a historian or academic? Historians are accurate people, extremely fond of investigating history, rummaging in the past, searching the archives. I like to make up my own points and endings to stories. That’s what I realized when I was working on my book, Cinematography of Oblivion, originally a thesis at the Department of Film Studies. I couldn’t make up anything as a historian, it would twist the reality. As a screenwriter, which is my daily job, I can do my research, look up the relevant information, and work on the stories. I don’t feel like an academic for a similar reason. Maybe I’m mistaken, but for me, an academic is also exact, accurate, and intellectual, and that’s not me. So you’re not an intellectual? I don’t know. I like to read, I like to think about things, but I’m also trying to maintain a popular way of looking at the world. I simply don’t tend towards complicated thinking if there’s an easier, more natural solution at hand. When I took lectures by Czech philosopher Miroslav Petříček, whom I hold in high esteem, I saw him thinking about the world in a way I can’t but admire, but

As a screenwriter, I want to do movies that aren’t stupid and focus on important topics but at the same time are easy to understand for a broad audience

for myself, I can’t do the same. I can’t reach my goals through such complicated paths. My thinking is much simpler and more straightforward. Having said that, I don’t want to simplify things too much. That’s another pitfall – you make things look too banal, which I want to avoid. I don’t want to show complex truths, such as in Burning Bush or in Wasteland, in a simple light. That could be misleading, inaccurate and dangerous. As a screenwriter, I want to do movies that aren’t stupid and focus on important topics but at the same time are easy to understand for a broad audience. Yet you don’t do real mainstream… I believe I do, but not by simplifying, telling banal stories or making them look vulgar. I hope Burning Bush doesn’t offer an overly-simplified view of the normalization era and the self-sacrifice of Palach, but we have seen that the movie is comprehensible for a broader audience, which is the best result. After the launch of Burning Bush, amid all the celebrations and awards that followed, a thought struck me that Palach sacrificed everything he could, while I only wrote a script about it, and it gave me fame, recognition and a key to the door of the movie world. I realized how disproportionate it is. Of course, I spent three years on that script. Fine, but no big deal compared to what that guy did. You describe yourself as a snooty, vainglorious and pompous guy, which made me rather afraid to do this interview. Why do you display yourself in such a bad light? I don’t. These really are my shortcomings, and it seems fair to me to warn you in advance. I do like Ludvík


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We’re part of the system so strongly that we can’t detach ourselves. And yes, this is a sort of loss of freedom. And there’s another sort, an ironic one: we have so many possibilities that it’s difficult to choose the right one Vaculík’s answer to the question about how he felt when secret police took him away for questioning so often. He said he felt bad, but he was no good for them as he already had said everything about himself in his book, so they had nothing they could use on him. I’ve also read that you work a lot and don’t know how to relax. I’m going to praise myself here – I think that’s true. Probably because of my parents, especially Mom, who was really demanding. Perhaps it was sort of her compensation for things she couldn’t have done herself. As far back as I can remember, she kept telling my brother and me that duty comes first, that we first have to try hard to achieve something, and only then there can be some fun. It’s a mixed blessing of course, as it may rather complicate your life when you’re thirteen, but that’s the way I am. I always wanted to prepare for the next day at school, and then do what I liked. Moms are often demanding, never mind the age of the children. I hear such complaints all the time at home… I remember an experience which was typical of Mom’s approach. My parents were on holiday and I was at my grandmother’s. When they were about to return, Granny thought it would be great if I stayed home and said hello to them in the morning. Mom was happy to see me, but she immediately asked: “How come you’re not at school?” Then she sent me there, and was clearly upset. That’s what I call a missed blessing. On the one hand, it’s hard – she should be happy to see me, but on the other hand, these are the moments you learn that you simply have to go to school. Your childhood memories sometimes find a way into your scripts, such as the mug with a fairy in Wasteland. Do you insist that the directors stick to your specifications, down to the smallest details? In both Burning Bush and Wasteland, all the details in the scripts appeared in the movies. Directors are mostly happy with such notes. They can use them or not, it’s up to them. But they mostly do, as these details can draw the audience to the story. And if they don’t work in the end, you can always edit them out.

Is your approach to screenwriting affected by your film studies? Due to years of film studies, I’ve seen a lot of movies I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, and now I can get inspiration from them, both on the conscious and subconscious level. I surely have many shortcomings as a screenwriter, but I can project myself into a situation and imagine it vividly, including the atmosphere. I believe I can describe it in a way that’s useful for the director. So do you mind when a director changes a scene? If a director invents something better, which of course happens, then it’s all good. I was extremely lucky in this. For example, in Wasteland, we had big disputes with director Ivan Zachariáš about a particular scene, and it dragged on and on. Then I admitted he was right. In one of the episodes, Hana needs to meet an important character, and I put this scene in a bookstore. I felt it right to make that character a shop assistant in the bookstore, I thought it suited her nature. Ivan changed it. He said the bookstore was boring, that it would look dull on screen, as there’s nothing but books. He replaced the bookstore with a hockey arena, where this young woman is a coach of little figure skaters. So we’re in the big arena, music is playing, small girls make pirouettes on ice, and it’s much better visually. I can’t tell you what this scene is about but it’s very emotional and cruel things are being said. And the little girls whirling and dancing around Hana and the other woman give it a completely different tone as you suddenly see their innocence in contrast to those grisly, terrible things discussed between Hana and the lady. Can you tell the social status of the audience by their choice of TV series? If you watch the Rose Garden Consulting Room (Ordinace v růžové zahradě, a rough equivalent to BBC drama series Doctors) or other soap operas, it could say something about you, but when I think about the people I know who watch this series, it’s a perfect sample of the whole society. It’s true that surveys always show Rose Garden is mostly popular among villagers or small town people with inferior education, but it doesn’t work that way. I know people from all social and economic groups who watch soap operas. Of course, they may see them in different ways, but they watch them regularly. How does your audience look? You mean the audience of Wasteland? Well, most of them are probably young people used to foreign TV series who don’t really enjoy the typical Czech stuff and complain that we can’t do such things as Breaking Bad or True Detective. These people are making comments, evaluating movies – in other words, they are well informed. I would also expect them to live in larger towns and cities – villagers are, in my opinion, less prone to like this kind of story. Is it true that sometimes the audience gets so close to the characters that they start to see them as their friends? This is a gorgeous advantage of a TV series over movies. Even the best movie in the world is over in two


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hours, and then it’s done. It remains in you, resonates in you somehow. But in the TV series, you’re coming back to the characters. And this is something that keeps you waiting. In fact, it’s the same with a book – a novel that you read for two weeks. Every day, you look forward to opening that book and read twenty or thirty pages. A series has the same potential. This is the reason quite a lot of series earn nine of ten stars on sites like IMDb, which is something a feature movie hardly ever gets. But does a series correspond to our current lifestyle which makes us constantly want to discover something new? I’d say the reason to watch a TV series regularly is that you know that you will find more or less the same thing there. Of course, the story develops over time, and you want to know how, but the characters are the same, and you look forward to seeing them. It’s a certainty, a firm point in these ever-changing times.

Talking of ever-changing times, do you think these constant and frantic changes mean a loss of freedom? We scarcely realize what networks we’re entangled in, so it’s really hard to get out of them. It becomes impossible to be independent. Is it ever possible, these days, to live completely free in the desert or in woods, as old hermits did? We’re part of the system so strongly that we can’t detach ourselves. And yes, this is a sort of loss of freedom. And there’s another sort, an ironic one: we have so many possibilities that it’s difficult to choose the right one. It may be even more difficult now than in the times our options were limited. It’s a paradox.

Štěpán Hulík authored the screenplay of Burning Bush three-part film created for HBO by world-renowned Polish director Agnieszka Holland. It won the Czech Lion Award, the Award of the Czech Film Critics and the Czech Film and Television Association’s Václav Havel Award. He is screenwriter of the HBO Europe drama series Wasteland.


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A sanctuary for learning and leisure

The contest for the biggest architectural project at Charles University in a hundred years has been concluded and work can now begin on the 94 million Euro Campus Albertov. The downtown Prague site will include two high-tech scientific research and educational centres, classrooms, refectories and venues for social events. Petra Köpplová met architect Martin Tycar from the winning firm, Prague-based architectural studio THE SIGN OF FOUR – architects text by Petra Köpplová  phOTO by Dan Materna, René Volfík VIsUALIzAtions by Znamení čtyř – architekti


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What does architecture mean for you? An architect’s work involves looking for a concept, leading a project team of many professions, and finally supervising the realization, which is crucial because the finished building is the presentation of the whole effort. The initial competition may be the shortest stage but also the most important because it defines the way you’re heading. I believe most principles in architecture and in culture generally are the same and only appear to change in different circumstances. I don’t think architects invent new forms. We follow up on our predecessors and update their work.

project doesn’t involve stucco facades and other elements that are no longer used, but the grandeur is necessary. The priority was to integrate the building into the city environment – it needed to provide an aesthetic experience, but we won’t neglect the functional needs. The purpose of the building is science, so the functions must be absolutely rational. But the rationality is, through the spatial arrangement, also present in the aesthetics, which are not formal or clogged with pointless artistic forms.

Did you want to use traditional forms in your work? The buildings on Albertov have so far been based on the concept of science and higher education as the platform for elite activities, typical for the institutions of the first half of the 20th century. The form is based on the aristocratic palaces that served, in addition to their main functions, as symbols of prestige and exclusive social position. This is a worthy principle and should be maintained.

How did you implement the request for a state-of-the-art technological facility? We realized that science and research are ever-changing, continually adapting their needs and requirements for new technology. It would be pointless to propose single-purpose rooms. The structure is therefore as variable as it gets – it only takes simple adjustments to create an open space or separated box systems. We would also like to leave the technology uncovered wherever possible to enable easy user access. To cover the structures in the soffits would mean hiding the bearing structure as well as the reinforced concrete plate.

So you wanted to preserve this image of grandeur? Monumental features are ubiquitous at Albertov. We wanted the buildings to be generous, well arranged and beautiful. Our

How will researchers, teachers and students feel in the new buildings of Globcentrum and Biocentrum? I imagine the working spaces as the renaissance of science and research, in terms of →

I believe most principles in architecture and in culture generally are the same and only appear to change in different circumstances


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The architectural studio THE SIGN OF FOUR – architects was founded in 1999 by Juraj Matula, Richard Sidej and Martin Tycar, all graduates of the Faculty of Architecture, Czech Technical University. They are members of the group New Czech Work (Nová česká práce) that issued a manifesto and has had exhibitions in Prague, Bratislava and Berlin. They met at lectures on traditionalism and methods of analogical design given by architect Miroslav Šik.

purity and aesthetic simplicity, which also means using the right materials. So we thought a lot about using wood or other natural materials for public areas to create a friendly atmosphere in both buildings. Nowadays you can work on your laptop in a park or café, and this should also be reflected in other areas, such as offices and labs. These are tiny touches. The interior should be based on detail, material or structural, and texture. Was there anything in the demanding requirements that put you off? The building programme was one of the reasons we decided to take part in the competition. It’s very thoroughly planned, and includes a lot of facilities and equipment

that help enrich academic life and widen the limits of professional use. The area contains cafés, a students’ club, a study room open 24/7 and a refectory for the whole Albertov that should also be open to public. And there’s park space, another place to spend free time, and roof terraces. Still, have you found the requirements demanding? Sure. These are multifunctional buildings with highly specialized facilities. Apart from the seven members of our studio, more than ten other specialists helped us with the project in the competition stage. In terms of volume, the building plan reaches, or maybe slightly exceeds, the limits of what the area could accommodate.


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So I’m glad the jury recommended the sponsor to consider reducing the plan a little. How would you describe your idea of Biocentrum and Globcentrum? The concept of both buildings is based on the basic structure with a single atrium in the centre – a courtyard. If you then divide this structure laterally and longitudinally, the building completely changes. Suddenly it’s all glass, with each floor offering entrances, meeting areas and relaxing spaces. From a single spot in the centre of the atrium you can see in all four directions, which also visually interconnects with the street. Hundreds of people will work in both centres, so it’s important that they have places to meet. The glassed labs will also be directed to the atrium, and some of the offices too. Partitions between the windows will be clad in wood, for the exclusive look and feel, but also for better sound absorption. Why did you opt for a conventional design of Biocentrum and Globcentrum?

These days, various extravagant shapes are popular – just think of the planned building designed by Jan Kaplický for the National Library at Letná… I’m not too fond of transforming buildings to a different form – for me, there’s no reason why a house should look like an animal or a plant. Furthermore, these concepts are uneconomical and non-functional. The Albertov area is in a valley, accessible from one side only, and protected by the terrain. The whole environment, together with the architecture, gives the place very strong character. However, the campus must be finished. Go there now, and you’ll see that the place looks like a theatre stage, dragging you without any interruption into its environment, following the tradition of Czech science. It’s a peaceful area, so that you can concentrate, and it’s also a sanctuary of peace for surrounding neighbourhoods.

Martin Tycar with colleagues of Prague architectural studio THE SIGN OF FOUR – architects, is winner of the competition for the Charles University Campus Albertov development project.


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Mix up the potions of days gone by

Text by Petra Köpplová photo by Jiří Hroník


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Have you ever wondered what it was like to be a pharmacist in the days before modern medicine? Now’s your chance to mix potions and prepare treatments with the same substances used by apothecaries hundreds of years ago. Old racks and jars, scales, mortars and tableting machines are all on display at the Czech Pharmaceutical Museum at Hospital Kuks in a quaint village just a couple of hours from Prague. The hospital dating back to the late 17th century is a magnificent example of the baroque style of the period and was once part of a popular health resort. Now after major renovation it is administered as a museum by the Pharmacy Faculty of Charles University. Come and see how baroque apothecaries used wolf ’s liver or powder from mummified corpses to make their preparations.


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Contact Czech Pharmaceutical Museum Hospitรกl Kuks, 544 43 Kuks phone: 495 067 580 (Kuks) valaskova@faf.cuni.cz www.ceska-apatyka.cz/english


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4× Honorary Degrees

Professor Philip Zimbardo, psychologist, educationalist and humanist, has dedicated his life to improving human welfare. He has authored more than 400 works, both academic and popular, exploring human nature and spreading the humanist message. His famous Stanford Prison Experiment is a reminder of the dark side of human nature. Zimbardo has used the results of the study for deeper research into psychological mechanisms that lead people to commit evil. His conclusions are applied in various spheres from the social and psychological to politics, reality TV shows and the analysis of the motivation for crime in legal proceedings. Zimbardo became professor at renowned universities Yale and Stanford. He is the author of several hundred papers and books on social and anti-social behaviour, understanding time perspective and shyness. He also created the popular US TV series Discovering Psychology.

Charles University has awarded honorary degrees to four distinguished professors Professor Volker Diehl has greatly contributed to the fact that Hodgkin’s lymphoma, once a feared and deadly disease, is now one of the most easily curable tumours. Diehl’s career started in the 1960s in Germany and Austria. His professional interests took him to Philadelphia to work with the virologists Werner and Gertrude Henle and to Central Africa to cooperate with Denis Burkitt. In these countries he was involved in research that revealed the connection between the Epstein-Barr virus and infectious mononucleosis, and later Burkitt lymphoma. From research into the pathogenesis of malignant lymphoproliferative disorders, Diehl gradually switched his focus to the clinical issues associated with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In 1978 he founded the German Hodgkin Study Group and has been its honorary chairman since then. From 1983 until 2003 he was head of the Department of Internal Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Cologne. In 2003 he founded the National Centre for Tumour Diseases in Heidelberg.

19/10/2016


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2/11/2016

Professor Susan Margaret Gasser has been Director of the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research in Basel since 2004 and is Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Basel. For the last four years she has also been a visiting professor at Osaka University in Japan. Professor Gasser studied biology and biophysics at the University of Chicago and completed her PhD. in Biochemistry at the University of Basel under the direction of Professor Gottfried Schatz. In 1986 she began her own research at the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research in Lausanne, focusing on chromatin and chromosome organization in budding yeast, combining genetics, microscopy and biochemical approaches. Gasser has authored more than 250 primary articles and reviews and has received several awards. She currently leads a Human Frontier Science grant programme that includes Czech scientists.

Professor Nobutaka Hirokawa of the University of Tokyo is an internationally renowned molecular cell biologist and pioneer of research into intracellular transport, a field discovered and established by a team he led. Hirokawa’s major contributions are the discovery of the kinesin superfamily of motor proteins (KIFs) and the delineation of the molecular mechanism of intracellular transport. Further, his research clarified mechanisms of the fundamentally important physiological processes regulated by KIFs such as the mechanisms of learning and memory, CNS/ PNS development, left/right determination of our body and tumourigenesis. His research also identified certain KIFs that cause disease and revealed the pathogenesis of conditions such as Charcote-Marie-Tooth neuropathy, depression, epilepsy, female infertility, hydrocephalus, hypercholesterolemina and type 2 diabetes. The novelty of Hirokawa’s discoveries is reflected by the publication of his findings in journals of the highest authority including Cell, Nature and Science.


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combining science and beauty

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1      Josef Bruna Colonist 2  Aleš Buček Couple 3  Věra Stuchelová Skin of a gecko

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The boundaries between science and art are blurred in a competition which has produced some amazing pictures. They often reveal not just the secrets of nature using the latest technology but also its hidden beauty. The Science is Beautiful competition, run by the Faculty of Science at Charles University, aims to communicate to the wider public the beauty encountered by scientists in the course of their work. The competition, founded in 2009, includes photographs, illustrations and computer-generated images and is aimed at the general public as well as professional scientists.

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Day of Lifeloo oooooooooooo oooooooooooo oooooooooooo ooong Learning and Alumni Festiva​l 22nd April 2017 1   0 am  — 4 pm Charles University Carolinum Ovocný trh 5 Prague 1


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