Meet the winner of 2017: Johan Seijsing

Johan Seijsing's groundbreaking research digs into tackling antibiotic resistence with enzymes. He proposes to use enzymes found in nature as a novel treatment against bacterial infections. Let's give a round of applause to the winner!


Without efficient antibiotics small infections can develop into life threatening conditions. The idea of Seijsing’s proposal is to find out if it is possible to use enzymes found in nature as a novel treatment against bacterial infections.

To turn this idea into action Seijsing and his colleagues will create a large library of different enzyme variants on tiny chips and test their ability to target for example several flesh eating bacteria.

Seijsing is at a loss for words. “I didn’t think I was going to win. The other pitches were so good.”

“With this money I can continue doing this research and start putting the machine for creating the enzyme library together and engineering these enzymes. The goal is to get some good research out”

Antibiotic resistance is one of the big problems of our time. As researchers try to solve it no stone should be left unturned, Seijsing says.

“We’re really facing difficult times, and all solutions have to be tried. I think my solutions is a quite feasible one for several different infections.”

High-quality pitches from young researchers

Held at Slush, Helsinki on Friday, December 1st, Skolar Award is an international science pitching competition for postdoc researchers. The main prize of 100 000 euros is meant for advancing the winner’s research idea.

The ten finalists’ ideas varied from personalized cancer treatment to mitigating destructive hurricanes. The researchers pitched their work on the Slush Central Stage.

The jury says they reached the decision quite easily.

“Antibiotic resistance is one of the big problems we’re facing and it’s getting worse and worse and worse if we don’t solve it,” says a jury member, professor of non-fiction studies Pirjo Hiidenmaa.

The jury was surprised by the high quality of pitches.

“These researchers were amazing at pitching. And science pitching is much harder than pitching business ideas”, says judge Sari Stenfors, who is the executive director of Augmented Leadership Institute in California.

In addition to Stenfors and Hiidenmaa the jury consisted of Ela Madej, Risto Renkonen, Minna Martikainen, Markku Wilenius, Mari Lundström and Vincenzo Cerullo.