Fabian Theis wins Leibniz Prize 2023

The German Research Foundation (DFG, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) announced on December 8 that Fabian Theis is a winner of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize – the most prestigious research award in Germany. Fabian Theis is the Scientific Director of Helmholtz AI, Head of the Computational Health Center at Helmholtz Munich and chair for Mathematical Modelling of Biological Systems at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). The prize is endowed with 2.5 million Euros.

Fabian Theis about his new award: “I am super excited and grateful about this recognition! The past years have seen a rapid explosion of single cell genomics. The produced big data makes this a fantastic area to explore with machine and deep learning techniques to understand cellular decisions in health and disease. What also stands out is the immensely collaborative research - with teams truly spanning the globe. The future of medicine is data-based, and I hope to contribute to the foundations of a transformative biomedical era. I am delighted to receive DFG’s support with the prestigious Leibniz Prize, and I am deeply grateful to my fantastic team, my department, Helmholtz AI, Helmholtz Munich, the Helmholtz Association, the Technical University of Munich and in particular my family, without whom all of this would not have been possible.”

Helmholtz Munich CEO Matthias Tschöp adds: “With his visionary research in the field of artificial intelligence in biomedicine, Fabian Theis leads one of our strategically most important topics at the center and within the entire Helmholtz Association. Due to his scientific excellence, his numerous transformative discoveries and his extraordinary research personality, Fabian Theis occupies a leading position worldwide in his field. I cannot imagine a worthier winner of the Leibniz Prize 2023.”

About Fabian Theis and his achievements

Fabian Theis is an internationally leading pioneer in the fields of machine learning in biomedicine and computational health research. He is Head of the Computational Health Center at Helmholtz Munich and coordinates Helmholtz AI. He is holding the chair for Mathematical Modelling of Biological Systems at TUM and is associate faculty at the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Hinxton, UK. Theis has founded the Munich School for Data Science, which significantly strengthens the promotion of young researchers in the field of data science, and is involved in numerous international AI initiatives. Based on his activities, the State of Bavaria established the Institute of AI for Health at Helmholtz Munich that could become the kernel of an ELLIS (European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems) Institute in the wider region. He is a key player in the Human Cell Atlas, an international collaborative project with the goal of establishing a reference database of all human cells as a basis for the diagnosis, monitoring and therapy of diseases. Throughout his career, Theis contributed to answering medical questions such as the risk assessment of type-1-diabetes, modelling of drug combinations in diabetes, prediction of diabetic retinopathy and to solving questions facing the current SARS-CoV2 pandemic. Theis received numerous awards and fundings for his scientific work, including the European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant (2022), the Erwin Schrödinger Prize of the Stifterverband (2017), an ERC Starting Grant (2010) and the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize of the DFG (2006).

About the 2023 Leibniz Prize

Ten scientists from the fields of the life sciences, the humanities, social sciences, the natural sciences and engineering were selected from a total of 131 proposals for the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize 2023. The Leibniz Programme, established in 1985, aims to improve the working conditions of outstanding researchers, expand their research opportunities, relieve them of administrative tasks, and help them employ particularly qualified early career researchers. A maximum of €2.5 million is provided per award. To date, eleven Leibniz prize winners have received the Nobel Prize at a later stage in their careers.