The Ralitsa Prize for students at the Medical University of Plovdiv

As of 2023, the ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’ National Endowment Fund will award the Ralitsa Prize to three students from the Medicine, Dental Medicine, or Pharmacy specialisms of the Medical University of Plovdiv, who have achieved excellent results in Biochemistry.


The award was initiated by Dr Maria Staykova—a long-time sponsor of the Fund, and daughter of the artist Anastas Staykov—who will ensure the financial security of the Ralitsa Prize, a donation account opened with the Fund in the name of her mother.


The donor has proposed that the amount granted in 2023 should be EUR 200 for each awardee.



Ralitsa Beleva-Staykova was born in Burgas. In 1944, she graduated in Chemistry from the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics of the St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University. In 1946, she became a teacher at the First All-girls Secondary School in Plovdiv.


She began her professional career in 1950 as a full-time assistant at the Department of Biochemistry of the Plovdiv Medical Academy. In 1966, she was appointed Head of the Biochemical Department at the Central Research Laboratory of the Higher Medical Institute, Plovdiv. She was assigned the position of Senior Research Associate at the Faculty’s Central Clinical Laboratory and, from 1978, she was in charge of two sections there—science and production. From 1971 to 1982, she lectured on biochemistry to medical students and, from 1972, also to dental students. She published over 100 scientific articles and abstracts in various journals in Bulgaria and abroad—the UK, Germany, Romania, USA, USSR, Czechoslovakia, and France. She took part in numerous prestigious scientific forums and was the author of two books, ‘Bioorganic Structures’ and ‘Working Schemes in Biochemistry’ and co-author of six practical manuals in biochemistry for medical students.


Ralitsa Beleva-Staykova was also extensively involved in public activities: she was a member of the Control Committee of the Scientific Society of Biologists (1951–52); Chair of the Society of the Bulgarian Red Cross for theoretical departments (1952–54); Vice-chair of the Society of Physiological Sciences, Plovdiv Branch (1970–75); and a member of the editorial board of Nasha Pravda newspaper and the Folia Medica journal.


Ralitsa Beleva-Staykova was a ‘star sponsor’ at the new astronomy centre, Stromlo Exploratory, at the Mount Stromlo Observatory in Australia


The star, sponsored by Ralitsa Beleva–Staykova, is part of the Canis Major constellation, 251 light years away from our planet.


The Mount Stromlo Observatory was founded in 1924 in Stromlo, Australia. It is located west of the capital, Canberra, on Mount Stromlo at about 751 m above sea level. It is part of, and managed by, the Australian National University’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics. On 18 January 2003, the observatory was engulfed in a massive forest fire, which destroyed five telescopes and some administrative buildings. Only one, 15-cm Farnham telescope was saved.


Following the firestorm, a campaign was begun for its restoration. The idea was that whoever wished to become a sponsor would ‘adopt a star’.


By now,  the observatory’s restoration has been completed.

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