Academy President, Nicholas Dirks and Len Blavatnik with 2022 Blavatnik National Awards Laureates, Conor Walsh of Harvard University, Hosea Nelson of Caltech, and Elaine Hsiao of UCLA
The Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences hosted the eighth annual Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists Ceremony at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City on September 19, 2022. This event honored the 2022 Blavatnik National Awards Finalists and Laureates. Professor Michael W. Young, 2017 Nobel Prize Laureate from the Rockefeller University, served as ceremony presenter. Some of New York’s leading figures in science, academia, and philanthropy attended the ceremony including author and Pulitzer Prize winner, Siddhartha Mukherjee and Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall Sir Clive Gillinson.
During his opening remarks, Prof. Young called the Blavatnik Awards essential to risk-taking, innovative science: “Do we want our freshest minds playing it safe? Or exercising their creativity and scientific imaginations without limits and at their full capacity? The freedom to take risks, asking big, complicated or leftfield questions without worrying about failure; and being able to do this near the beginning of your career… that is exactly the spirit behind these awards. Which is why I said earlier, the Blavatnik Awards are not only valuable – they are essential.” He concluded by introducing the President of the New York Academy of Sciences, Professor Nicholas B. Dirks.
Prof. Dirks remarked on the influence the Blavatnik Awards have made since their inception in 2007. “With the program in its 16th year, I would like to take this moment to reflect on its extraordinary reach and impact – which extends far beyond the walls of laboratories and universities. In fact, I’d say the work of Blavatnik honorees has personally touched the lives of each of us here tonight, in ways we may not even realize.” He reflected with a short slide presentation on the contributions of fifteen past Blavatnik Awardees’ research that have gone on to produce groundbreaking discoveries—from improving COVID testing to consulting on blockbuster motion picture films and designing therapeutic video games that treat ADHD, to developing new fabrics that reduce the need for air conditioning.
Young returned to the stage to announce the 2022 Blavatnik National Awards Laureates by introducing a film on each Laureate, followed by calling them to the stage to receive their medal from Mr. Len Blavatnik, Founder and Chairman, Blavatnik Family Foundation. Then each Laureate gave a scientific presentation at the podium.
2022 Laureate in Life Sciences, Elaine Y. Hsiao, Ph.D., a neurobiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, gave a talk on the connection between the gut microbiome and the nervous system, and how her discoveries could help improve maternal-fetal health and predict risk for neurodevelopmental disorders.
Hosea M. Nelson, Ph.D., a synthetic chemist at the California Institute of Technology, spoke about his technique that helps organic chemists design and synthesize new molecules. Nelson has pioneered microcrystal electron diffraction (MicroED) as a tool to determine the positions of atoms within small molecules with unprecedented detail. Resulting insights can help accelerate development of new drugs and commercial chemicals.
Conor Walsh, Ph.D., a biomedical and mechanical engineer at Harvard University, shared his research in the development of a new class of lightweight, flexible and soft wearable robot technologies. This could dramatically improve mobility for disabled people, including people with ALS and those who have experienced a stroke.
The ceremony concluded with the Blavatnik Awards tradition of making a “Toast to Science”
Visit the Blavatnik Awards website to learn more.
2023 Blavatnik National Awards nominations are now open thru November 9. Learn more