The Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in Israel Celebrates its Third Year. Three young researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science will each be awarded US$100,000 for their groundbreaking discoveries.
The Blavatnik Family Foundation, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities (IASH) announced today the 2020 Laureates of the third annual Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in Israel. The Blavatnik Awards recognize outstanding, innovative scientists at the early stages of their careers for both their extraordinary achievements and their promise for future discoveries. The prizes are awarded to researchers aged 42 and younger for their groundbreaking work in the disciplines of Life Sciences, Chemistry, and Physical Sciences & Engineering.
The 2020 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in Israel will be conferred at a formal ceremony held at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on March 29, 2020. The Laureates will join a cadre of elite young men and women across Israel, from Tel Aviv University, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, and the Weizmann Institute of Science, that has been honored by the Blavatnik Awards since their launch in Israel in 2017. In addition, the Laureates will become part of the international Blavatnik Science Scholars community, totaling 294 scientists from around the world. Each summer the Laureates will be invited to attend the annual Blavatnik Science Symposium in New York City at the New York Academy of Sciences, where past and present Blavatnik Awards honorees from around the world come together to share new ideas and forge collaborations for novel, cross-disciplinary research.
The 2020 Blavatnik Awards in Israel Laureates are:
• In Physical Sciences & Engineering, Dr. Guy Rothblum, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, Weizmann Institute of Science
• In Life Sciences, Dr. Igor Ulitsky, Senior Scientist, Department of Biological Regulation, Weizmann Institute of Science
• In Chemistry, Dr. Emmanuel Levy, Senior Scientist, Department of Structural Biology, Weizmann Institute of Science
“Recognizing and supporting promising scientists early in their careers is essential to ensure that they maximize the impact of their future research,” says Len Blavatnik, Founder and Chairman of Access Industries and Head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation. “For the past several decades, Israel has been a powerhouse of scientific breakthroughs and technological innovation. The three young scientists recognized by these Awards are outstanding examples of the enormous potential of Israeli scientific talent.”
Ellis Rubinstein, President of the New York Academy of Sciences, noted that “From studying uncharted areas of the human genome and mapping the protein organization of cells, to improving security and efficiency in cloud computing, this year’s Blavatnik Awards Laureates have created entirely new methods to advance their respective fields and society as a whole. We are truly excited for the Weizmann Institute as it is the honored institution in 2020.”
Professor Nili Cohen, President of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, said, “Together with the Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences, we are delighted to honor these exceptional Israeli scientists on their achievement. Their drive, determination, and dedication are leading them to advance the frontiers of scientific discovery, and they deserve to be recognized with this esteemed Award.”
In 2020, 36 nominations were received from seven universities across the country. Members of the Awards’ Scientific Advisory Council, which include the President of IASH, and co-chairs Nobel Prize Laureate Professor Aaron Ciechanover and President of the New York Academy of Sciences, were also invited to submit nominations. Distinguished juries—one for each disciplinary category—composed of leading senior scientists from throughout Israel independently selected the three Laureates.
About the Laureates
PHYSICAL SCIENCES & ENGINEERING:
Dr. Guy Rothblum, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, Weizmann Institute of Science
In our modern-day information age of cloud computing, “Big Data”, AI, and machine learning, new issues have emerged related to the privacy and security of personal data. Guy Rothblum, PhD, develops theories to address these emerging issues, and the societal concerns they raise. His work has not only advanced our understanding of the fundamental limitations of cloud computing systems and machine learning methods, but has also influenced the development of new algorithms and protocols in these fields. For example, he developed a theory to efficiently verify the correctness of computations performed in the cloud which has influenced the ongoing development of verification protocols. He has also developed a state-of-the-art algorithm that prevents leakage of individual-level, sensitive information¬ from analysis of big data sets, such as medical records or census data.
Dr. Igor Ulitsky, Senior Scientist, Department of Biological Regulation, Weizmann Institute of Science
Igor Ulitsky, PhD, is working in uncharted areas of the human genome, studying how a type of genetic information produced there—long noncoding RNA (lncRNA)—works to influence human health and disease. Understanding how, when, and where lncRNAs are active in our bodies has major implications for the development of novel regenerative medicines and disease treatments. lncRNAs are unique in that—unlike canonical RNA molecules—they do not contain information for making proteins. Instead, their main function is to control gene expression. Ulitsky conquers the substantial challenges of understanding how lncRNAs function in cells and organisms by combining novel experimental and computational methods. In this way, he has creatively unlocked the potential for using lncRNAs as both therapeutic agents and targets that can pave the way for the treatment of diseases such as cancer, brain injury, and epilepsy.
Dr. Emmanuel Levy, Senior Scientist, Department of Structural Biology, Weizmann Institute of Science
Life processes involve an intricate choreography between tens of millions of protein building blocks that form the infrastructure of a cell. Recent technological advances have revealed the catalogues of proteins present in various cells and organisms. However, understanding how these protein building-blocks assemble and work together is an extraordinarily complex task due to the huge number of potential interactions. Emmanuel Levy, PhD, has revealed protein hot-spots, where mutations frequently trigger new assemblages. His findings suggest that these assemblages emerge frequently during evolution, both in health and disease. Additionally, Levy has developed a range of computational and biochemical methodologies to study proteins and their interactions, thereby generating key ideas and tools for grasping the molecular infrastructure of living cells.
About the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists
The Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists established in 2007 by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and administered by the New York Academy of Sciences, honor exceptional young scientists and engineers by celebrating their extraordinary achievements, recognizing outstanding promise, and accelerating innovation through unrestricted funding. The Awards were established in New York and began as regional awards for young scientists and engineers in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists were established in 2014 and are awarded to faculty-rank scientists annually across the United States. With the 2017 launch of the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in Israel―in collaboration with the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities―and in the United Kingdom, there are now 294 recipients of regional, national, and international Blavatnik young scientist honors with awards totaling US$9.19 million.
About the Blavatnik Family Foundation
The Blavatnik Family Foundation is an active supporter of world-renowned educational, scientific, cultural, and charitable institutions in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, and throughout the world. The Foundation is headed by Len Blavatnik, a global industrialist and philanthropist and the Founder and Chairman of Access Industries, a privately-held industrial group based in the US with global strategic interests in natural resources and chemicals, media and telecommunications, real estate, venture capital/technology, entertainment, biotechnology, and selected external funds. Among other assets, Access Industries owns the Israeli Clal Industries group. For more detailed information, please visit: www.accessindustries.com
About the New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With more than 20,000 Members in 100 countries around the world, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at www.nyas.org
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