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Press Release No. 26 | 30 May 2007
An Enduring Incentive for Young Scientists and Researchers

The DFG Celebrates 30 Years of the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize

"Physics is Sexy" is the title of the show that will be performed by cabaret artist Vince Ebert in conjunction with the award ceremony commemorating 30 years of the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize. The event will take place at the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn on 5 June 2007. The event will showcase just how exciting science can be - and the prizewinners are proof of the fact that there are very talented and highly ambitious young scientists and researchers in Germany who conduct exceptional and internationally outstanding research, even at a young age. The prize is awarded jointly by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation). This year's award ceremony and anniversary celebrations include high-calibre speakers such as Dr. Annette Schavan, the Federal Minister of Education and Research, Professor Matthias Kleiner, President of the DFG, and Professor Jürgen Nehmer, Vice President of the DFG and Chairman of the prize's selection jury. The evening's entertainment will also feature a laser light show and the saxophone quartet "Double XX".

The topics currently being studied by this year's recipients span a broad spectrum of fascinating science. The 2007 prizewinners are: Eric Bell, astrophysicist; Michael Dumbser, fluid mechanics engineer; Veit Hornung, clinical pharmacologist; Stefan Linden, experimental physicist; Nicole Schweikardt, computer scientist; and Christian Wild, marine ecologist. The expectation that the prize should be "recognition as motivation", as described by one of the first recipients, Georges Köhler, who received the Nobel Prize in 1984, also holds true for these young researchers and scientists.

The idea of giving recognition to excellent young scientists and researchers for their research findings to date, in order to encourage them to continue in their dedication to science with the same enthusiasm and ambition, was what motivated Heinz Maier-Leibnitz, who was then President of the DFG, to establish this prize. The result: In 1977 Helmut Rohde, then Federal Minister of Education and Research, founded the "Prize for Young Scientists", which was awarded for the first time in 1978. Its name was changed in honour of Heinz Maier-Leibnitz in 1980.

In establishing this prize, the Ministry and the DFG were breaking new ground - in keeping with the spirit of 1977, the year the space probes Voyager 1 and 2 were launched. The prize marked the beginning of a success story that has seen a total of 279 outstandingly successful prizewinners - with an average age of just 30. In a survey of the top ten German science and research prizes, conducted by the magazine "Bild der Wissenschaft" in 2005, the 18 most important research and research funding organisations put the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize in third place, after the DFG's Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize and the German President's award for technology and innovation, the German Future Prize. The Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize also served as the role model for the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, established in 1985.

Just like the DFG's other programmes, however, even success stories such as the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize are constantly reviewed, because over the past 30 years there have been considerable changes in the requirements and demands placed on young scientists and researchers. For example, a fundamental change to the DFG's statutes in 1996 helped the prize attain even greater appeal and significance. Since then, six young scientists and researchers from all scientific disciplines have each received 16,000 euros in prize money each year. And the name Heinz Maier-Leibnitz and the structured promotion of reliable career paths by the DFG continue to stand for the long-term promotion of young scientists and researchers.

Further Information

The press is welcome to attend the anniversary award ceremony. Please register with

  • Jutta Höhn at the DFG's Press and Public Relations Office, Tel.: +49(0)228 885-2443, e-mail: jutta.hoehn@dfg.de.

At the DFG Head Office please contact

  • Dr. Ina Sauer, Tel.: +49(0)228 885-2724, e-mail: Ina.Sauer@dfg.de.

Further information on the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize and information on the prizewinners is available online at

Further information on the former President of the DFG after whom the prize is named, Heinz Maier-Leibnitz, is available online at

Further information on the DFG's promotion of young scientists and researchers is available online at http://www.dfg.de/en/research_careers/index.html.