Ladislav Valkovič – Exceptional Young Scientist in Slovakia under the age of 35

A solemn announcement of the ESET Science Award winners took place on Saturday 16 October 2021. The International Commission, chaired by Nobel Laureate in Physics Kip Thorne, has selected the winners of the ESET Science Award. Ladislav Valkovič became the winner of the category Exceptional Young Scientist in Slovakia under the age of 35.

Ing. Ladislav Valkovič, PhD. is an exceptional young scientist, former doctoral student of Professor Ivan Frollo (2012), today a successful independent researcher at the Department of Imaging Methods of the Institute of Measurement Science of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava. Ladislav gained international experience in important scientific workplaces and with his scientific results he promoted himself abroad (Medical University of Vienna – MR Center of Excellence, ETH & University of Zurich – Institute of Biomedical Technology). He currently leads the Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) group at the Oxford Center for Clinical Magnetic Resonance Research (University of Oxford).

Ladislav Valkovič’s research is focused on the study of energy metabolism in human tissues using magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy with an ultra-high magnetic field. Ladislav has developed into a prominent expert in the technique of non-invasive determination of skeletal muscle, liver and heart metabolism. His work using 7T saturation transfer techniques has shown that the rates of hepatic ATP (adenosine triphosphate) synthesis can replace biopsy in the diagnosis of hepatic steatosis (steatosis is the “fattening” of the liver) and allowed the first evaluation of skeletal muscle ATP synthesis during a single exercise. He has recently developed a technique for detecting inorganic myocardial phosphate that can help detect metabolic disorders in patients with cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Valkovič actively participated in the solution of several international projects where he worked on the development of strategies to increase sensitivity in MR in order to explore new metabolic pathways. This is key to understanding the effect of systemic and cardiovascular disorders on tissue metabolism needed to discover effective therapies for these conditions. He himself has received several research grants, including the prestigious Sir Henry Dale Scholarship (Wellcome Trust / Royal Society) and two international grants for cooperation between Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Austria, which have led to lasting research cooperation between these countries. The cooperation established during the solution of international projects has provoked several successful international research studies and continues to this day.

His expertise was recognized by invitations to lecture on multinuclear MRS in training courses organized by the International Society for Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Medicine (ISMRM) and their European equivalent, and co-author of an expert paper on muscle MRS. He has published a total of 53 peer-reviewed publications (at the time of his nomination for the ESET Science Award), of which 17 were the first author and his scientific work has been recognized at home and abroad by many awards, e.g. The prize for a young researcher of the SAS under the age of 35, two prizes Summa Cum Laude Merit Awards from ISMRM and the Prize of the Medical University of Vienna for outstanding scientific performance.