Mathematician, physicist and information scientist Prof. Fabian Theis has won the 2023 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize. The full professor for Biomathematics at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has been honored for his pioneering work in the analysis, modeling and interpretation of genomic data, the German Research Foundation (DFG) announced. The Leibniz Prize, the most important research prize in Germany, is endowed with 2.5 million euros.
Prof. Theis, a member of TUM's Munich Data Science Institute (MDSI) and head of the Institute of Computational Biology at the German Research Center for Environmental Health Helmholtz Zentrum München, uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to investigate how cells make decisions, for example to understand how diseases develop.
His objective is to describe the diverse range of cell types in the human body, for example to represent the effects of medicinal active ingredients on specific cell types. Using the ERC grant he recently received, Theis is developing software for exact forecasts in pharmaceutical tests which could accelerate the development of specific new medications.
TUM President Prof. Thomas F. Hofmann praised the outstanding work of the prize winner: "Prof. Theis is a brilliant mind who unites mathematics and information technologies with medicine. His research improves and accelerates the battle against disease. Professor Theis embodies the TUM guiding vision of human-centered engineering which places human beings at the focal point of technical innovations."
Theis studied mathematics and physics and earned his doctorate in Biophysics at the University of Regensburg in 2002. He earned his post-doctoral lecture qualification (Habilitation) there in 2008. In addition, he earned a second doctoral degree in information technologies at the University of Granada in 2003. He has also conducted research in Tokyo, Tallahassee (Florida) and Göttingen. In 2009 he became Associate Professor at the TUM Chair of Applied Mathematics. Since 2013 he has been full professor of Biomathematics at TUM and head of the Institute of Computational Biology at the Helmholtz Zentrum München. He has been the Co-Chair of the Bavarian Council on AI since 2020. In addition, he and two colleagues head the Munich unit of the European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems (ELLIS).
Theis has already received numerous awards and subsidies for his scientific work, including:
• European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant (2022)
• Erwin-Schrödinger Prize of the Stifterverband for German Science (2017)
• ERC Starting Grant (2010)
• Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize of the DFG (2006)
Since 1986, including Prof. Theis a total of 24 TUM researchers have already been honored with Leibniz Prizes.