2017 Blavatnik National Awards Ceremony


On Monday, September 25, 2017, the Blavatnik Family Foundation hosted its fourth annual celebration of the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists, honoring the scientific excellence and innovation of the 3 National Laureates and 27 National Finalists. This year’s black tie event, held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, gathered over 200 distinguished guests, including members of academia, business, and media.

The evening formally began as the brass ensemble of the renowned Juilliard School played a processional of Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major, BWV 1048: 1. Allegro and New York City high school students with a passion for science served as flag holders for the grand entrance of the Finalists and Laureates into the Museum’s famed Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.

The evening’s master of ceremonies, Dr. Peter Salovey, President of Yale University and the Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology, opened the evening with the introduction of the National Laureates and Finalists and welcomed them to the Blavatnik Science Scholars alumni community. Following, Ellis Rubinstein, President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Academy of Sciences acknowledged the international expansion of the Blavatnik Awards to Israel and the United Kingdom, as well as the continuing support of the exceptional judges and Blavatnik Awards Scientific Advisory Council that help make the Awards possible. Mr. Len Blavatnik was presented as the newest Honorary Member of the New York Academy of Sciences.

2017 Blavatnik National Laureates: Dr. Melanie Sanford, Dr. Yi Cui, and Dr. Feng Zhang were introduced during the evening by their mentors Dr. Robert H. Crabtree, Dr. Steven Chu, and Dr. Eric S. Lander, respectively. Each Laureate received a custom gold-plated medal from Len Blavatnik and followed with a presentation about their award-winning work. Special guest Walter Isaacson, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, former Chairman and CEO of CNN, and Editor of TIME Magazine, presented the keynote speech for the evening.

The event was attended by Blavatnik Awards winners and finalists from previous years, members of the National Jury, and members of the Blavatnik Awards Scientific Advisory Council including Dr. Ruslan Medzhitov and Nobel Laureate Dr. Roger Kornberg. Other notable guests included President Nili Cohen of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities; Dr. George Q. Daley, Dean of Harvard Medical School; Dr. Andrew Hamilton, President of New York University; Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee of Columbia University and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer; Danny Danon, Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations; Kenneth Bialkin, Secretary of the Carnegie Hall Corporation; Stephen Cooper, CEO of Warner Music Group; Dr. Bruce Stillman, President and CEO of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; and Dr. Harold Varmus, Nobel Prize Laureate.

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