2014 Blavatnik Science Symposium

Building a Community

In the eight years since its launch, the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists has built an exceptional collection of past and current honorees, who together represent one of the most dynamic, innovative, cross-disciplinary networks in the world - the Blavatnik Science Scholars Community.

In response to Blavatnik Awards honorees interested in meeting and interacting with each other, and to showcase the high caliber of research of the Community members, the Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences hosted the first annual Blavatnik Science Symposium to encourage networking, exchanging of ideas, and potential collaborations.

The inaugural event began with a dinner on July 8th featuring keynote speaker Dr. Marcia McNutt and was followed by a full day of presentations on July 9th.  The Symposium gathered nearly 50 members of the Blavatnik Regional Awards alumni and this year’s National Finalists. The event was attended by Len Blavatnik and other representatives of the Blavatnik Family Foundation, scientific luminaries, and representatives of the press.

Below are some of the comments from the Blavatnik Science Scholars who attended the event:

It was inspirational to learn about the breakthroughs undergoing in leading labs around the US spanning physics, chemistry biology and medicine, going from malaria to black holes, from novel technologies in energy storage and microscopes in a cell phone, to the secret codes in the cell.
—Antonio Giraldez, 2007 Blavatnik Regional Award Finalist, Professor of Genetics at Yale University.

As a young scientist, we are often too busy trying to ‘survive’ the academic life to be able to meet and discuss science with other young scientists from different fields.  In fact, such cross-fertilization of disciplines is where major discoveries are made.  The event has enabled me to discuss new collaborative projects with other attendees, which will generate new directions of research.” Ali Khademhosseini, 2014 Blavatnik National Award Finalist, Associate Professor at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences & Technology, Harvard University.

The event was an inspiring display of scientific talent exploring some of the most important questions in the natural sciences, and a very unique opportunity to interact with peers, colleagues at the Academy, and the Blavatnik team.”
—Sarkis Mazmanian, 2014 Blavatnik National Award Finalist, Professor of Microbiology at the California Institute of Technology

"Arriving at this stage of my scientific career, travel days to attend scientific conferences are a precious commodity, which are mostly spent interacting with colleagues in my own field, or even sub-field. I would never get an opportunity to spend a whole day listening to amazing talks on topics as diverse as black holes, DNA bricks and origami, materials science that is pushing limits of technology, and new frontiers of biomedicine. Being at the science symposium and interacting with colleagues I would otherwise never interact with, was like being a young science geek all over again, which is why I got into this business in the first place. I feel recharged.”
—Harmit Malik, 2014 Blavatnik National Award Finalist, Member, Basic Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

This unique Symposium brought together an incredible constellation of top young scientists with expertise ranging from Black Holes to human genome. Before the meeting started, the only connection between the participants was the Blavatnik Awards. By the end of the Symposium one couldn't help but feel to be a part of a scientific family. For me personally, it was a humbling experience to be surrounded by so much talent.”
—Ruslan Medzhitov, 2007 Blavatnik Regional Award Winner, Professor of Immunobiology at Yale University

The symposium was inspiring in terms of the depth and breadth of the presentations as well as the focus on young scientists. I was thrilled and humbled to be among such a distinguished crowd of researchers and scientists.”
—Aydogan Ozcan, 2014 Blavatnik National Award Finalist, Chancellor’s Professor in the  Electrical Engineering Department & Bioengineering Department at the University of California, Los Angeles.

I attended the Symposium to meet the Blavatnik Awards finalists and to learn about the new developments in Life Sciences - a field which is outside of my general research area. The reason for my interest as a physicist and mathematician in life sciences is that having progress in certain problems in this field may require combining scientific knowledge from various disciplines such as quantum mechanics, chemistry, mathematics, and biology. The symposium was most valuable because, besides the fact that all presenters were selected among most talented researchers in the field, the requirement for all was to present their results in a way that is understandable for scientists working outside of their normal domain. This goal was fully achieved.”
Alexander Pechen, 2009 Blavatnik Regional Award Winner, Academic Secretary and Leading Researcher at Steklov Mathematical Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences.

 “It was very stimulating to see so many creative and accomplished young scientists from so many different disciplines!”
—Michael Rape, 2014 Blavatnik National Award Finalist, Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of California, Berkeley.

"The Blavatnik Symposium was one of the most intellectually stimulating gatherings I have attended in some time.  It was amazing fertile ground for the cross pollination of ideas. I really enjoyed it.”
—Michael Strano, 2014 Blavatnik National Award Finalist, Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

  • Helen Blackwell, Peng Chen, and Ruben Gonzalez, 2014 Blavatnik National Award Finalists
  • Christopher Chang and Peng Chen, 2014 Blavatnik National Award Finalists
  • Sinisa Urban, 2014 Blavatnik National Award Finalist
  • Sarkis Mazmanian, 2014 Blavatnik National Award Finalist
  • Ali Hajimiri and Ali Khademhosseini, 2014 Blavatnik National Award Finalists