As part of our Global Call for Nominations and search for the Falling Walls Science Breakthroughs of the Year, we invite leading actors in science and academia worldwide to nominate the latest breakthroughs and outstanding science projects in 10 different categories, Life Sciences being one of them. In 2022, our distinguished jury for Life Sciences, chaired by Marja Makarow, will select 10 excellent Winners in this category and award one of them with the title of ‘Breakthrough of the Year in Life Sciences’.

We are looking for internationally recognised, established academics and leaders in the scientific study of life and organisms (e.g. biology, neuroscience, zoology), whose groundbreaking work contributes towards solving the world’s biggest challenges.

jury 2022

Counting more than 100 jurors across 10 categories, each breakthrough is determined by a distinguished world-class Jury under the leadership of renowned experts in their respective fields. We are delighted that Helga Nowotny, President Emerita of the European Research Council, is serving as the Chair of the Juries, presiding over the general selection process.

The Falling Walls Breakthrough of the Year 2022 in Life Sciences is selected by a distinguished Jury chaired by Marja Makarow.

Global Call Winners 2022


Discover the Falling Walls Science Breakthrough of the Year 2021 in Life Sciences:


Breaking the Wall to Restoring Vision for Retinal Degeneration

Seeing is not, as the proverb goes, merely believing, rather it is a literal window to the world. Losing our eye-sight means a major loss of personal freedom and, in most cases, implies an irreversible condition. While there have been various attempts to restore vision to humans, science still has a long way to go. José-Alain Sahel is a Distinguished Professor and Chairman at the University of Pittsburgh and founder of one of the most important European research centres on eye diseases – the Institut de la Vision, in Paris. After successful restoration of visual function in animal models of retinal degeneration, Jóse-Alain conceived the first human clinical trial combining a biotherapy with a stimulation device. He observed the first clinical evidence for vision restoration using optogenetics (a technique that involves the use of light to control neurons in living tissue). At Falling Walls, Jóse-Alain will talk about what it means to see and elaborate on one patient’s journey from having sight, losing it and slowly regaining it after 20 years. He will share insights on the process that involves an innovative use of gene therapy, stimulating goggles and lots of training.

Past Winners

Additional information for this category

When and where does the Falling Walls Science Summit 2022 take place?

The Falling Walls Science Summit will take place in Berlin.  Please save the date: 7 – 9 November 2022.

7 November

Falling Walls Pitches

A day of live pitches in the following categories: Emerging Talents (Falling Walls Lab) for the next generation of outstanding innovators. Science Engagement (Falling Walls Engage) for inspiring science engagers. Science Start-Ups (Falling Walls Venture) for the science start-up community.

8 November

Falling Walls Circle – Challenges and Foresight

Our new format to connect science and society. Researchers, policymakers, business leaders, and society discuss the biggest challenges we face and the foresight that scientific breakthroughs can offer.

9 November

Falling Walls Science Breakthroughs of the Year

On the anniversary of the historic fall of the Berlin Wall, the conference provides a stage for outstanding research presented in inspiring presentations. For the 14th time, “the brightest minds on the planet“ (BBC) will showcase their work.

Why should you want to take part?

  • If selected, your work will be presented to a distinguished Jury.
  • If chosen as one of the 10 Winners in Life Sciences, you will have the opportunity to feature your winning project in a short video in our content library.
  • If chosen as ‘Breakthrough of the Year’ 2022 in Life Sciences:
    • You will be invited to present on stage in Berlin (or via livestream), and reach a global audience.
    • We will use our expertise and years of experience in science communication and work with you to help make your research accessible and engaging to a wide audience, and to highlight its impact on society.
    • You will be offered individual professional coaching to prepare you for your talk.
    • You will have an opportunity to interact with a wide range of decision-makers, innovators and emerging talents from all over the world, working in many different disciplines and sectors, and join a community committed to bringing down barriers to address common challenges.

Who can take part?

  • Nominations are open to all sub-disciplines in Life Sciences, e.g. biology, neuroscience, zoology.
  • The title of ‘Breakthrough of the Year’ in Life Sciences can be awarded to individual scientists as well as research groups. However, research groups will need to determine one person who represents the group and presents their work.
  • Participants confirm that their work has never been presented on the Falling Walls stage before.
  • Participants can be nominated again with a different project/research topic.

What are the selection criteria?

We are looking for individual scientists as well as research groups of outstanding quality who

  • have made excellent, ground-breaking, recent achievements in their respective fields, nationally and internationally, and who stand out for their innovative strength;
  • promise to have a significant long-term impact on the research landscape and to contribute towards solving global challenges, such as having a positive effect on nature and humanity, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals;
  • translate scientific topics and their complexities in a way that makes them accessible and attractive to large sections of society.

Nominations will be considered and evaluated within the category, but their potential for interdisciplinary problem-solving will also be assessed.

How does the nomination and selection process work?


Leading actors in science and academia worldwide can nominate individual scientists or research groups by submitting a short nomination form via our website by 31 May 2022. The Nominee will be contacted directly and asked to submit further details.


If Nominees are selected, they will then become a Falling Walls Finalist. All Finalists will be officially announced on our website.


Our distinguished jury for Life Sciences, chaired by Marja Makarow, will select 10 Winners. Each Winner will have the opportunity to feature their winning project in a short video in our content library. A detailed briefing will be provided for this purpose.


The respective juries will select the Science Breakthroughs of the Year from the Winners of each category. On 9 November, the Breakthroughs of the Year will receive the opportunity to present their work to a global audience on the grand Falling Walls stage in Berlin.

Who can nominate?

We are asking leading academics and academic institutions, universities, research organisations, companies, private and public research centres, academies, research funders, foundations, and individuals to nominate the latest breakthroughs in Life Sciences. In rare exceptions, direct nominations may be considered. For more information on whether your project qualifies,  please contact us at

Who can I contact in case I have a question about this category?

Please contact us at

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