Enterprising, open to new ideas, drivers of change, and creative – that’s how investors describe Lithuania’s talent. And it is the country’s talent pool that has been the main driver in Lithuania’s growing community of foreign direct investment.
Stellar success in science
Lithuania’s scientists have already made their mark on the global stage. Most prominent among them is the Vilnius University Professor Virginijus Šikšnys, who was instrumental in the development of the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool. This genome editing technique, which makes it possible to modify the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with great precision, is already contributing to innovative cancer treatments. For his discovery, he was awarded the Warren Alpert Prize by Harvard University, and the prestigious Kavli Prize in 2018, which he won together with the winners of 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
And Virginijus Šikšnys is not the only internationally recognised Lithuanian chemist. Professor Vladas Algirdas Bumelis has developed 32 significant inventions and patents that are used both in Lithuania and abroad. Meanwhile, via the pharmaceutical production technologies based on genetic engineering techniques he is developing, he is also spearheading Lithuania’s entry into the Covid- 19 vaccine industry.
Leading up the younger generation is the biochemist Urtė Neniškytė, whose research into the molecular mechanisms of brain network pruning gained her recognition in 2019 as one of the world’s 15 most promising female scientists by the L`Oréal Foundation and UNESCO. She previously held a L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science fellowship, which has now passed to Dr. Ieva Plikienė and doctoral student Joana Smirnovienė for their respective COVID-19 and cancer treatment research.
In 2022 the list of the world’s most promising female scientists was extended with Lithuanian Associate Professor Dr Ieva Plikusienė. She was recognized for her research on SARS-CoV-2 protein-antibody interactions and is among the winners of the international Rising Talents awards. These awards are a part of the annual L’Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science programme, which recognizes the contribution of women scientists.
A younger generation gaining global recognition
At the International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition (iGEM) held in Boston in 2020, a team of students from Vilnius University took gold, ranking in the top across four categories. Their project Colight explored one of the fastest-growing areas in life sciences – optogenetics.