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The New York Academy of Sciences and the Leon Levy Foundation Announce the 2024 Leon Levy Scholars in Neuroscience

New York, NY, May 29, 2024 — The New York Academy of Sciences and the Leon Levy Foundation announced today the 2024 cohort of Leon Levy Scholars in Neuroscience, continuing a program initiated by the Foundation in 2009 that has supported 170 fellows in neuroscience.

This highly regarded postdoctoral program supports exceptional young researchers across the five boroughs of New York City as they pursue innovative neuroscience research and advance their careers toward becoming independent principal investigators. Nine scholars were competitively selected for a three-year term from a broad pool of applications from more than a dozen institutions across New York City that offer postdoctoral positions in neuroscience.

Shelby White, founding trustee of the Leon Levy Foundation, said, “For two decades, the Foundation has supported over 170 of the best young neuroscience researchers in their risk-taking research and clinical work. We are proud to partner with The New York Academy of Sciences to continue to encourage these gifted young scientists, helping them not only to advance their careers but also to advance the cause of breakthrough research in the field of neuroscience.”

Nicholas Dirks, the Academy’s President and CEO said “Our distinguished jury selected nine outstanding neuroscientists across the five boroughs of New York City involved with cutting-edge research ranging from the study of neural circuitry of memory and decision-making, to psychedelic-based treatment of alcohol and substance abuse disorders, to the chemical communication of insects, to the use of organoids to study Alzheimer’s, to vocal learning research in mammals. We are excited to be working with the Leon Levy Foundation to welcome this new group of young neuroscientists to the Academy and the Leon Levy Scholar community.”

The Scholars program includes professional development opportunities such as structured mentorship by distinguished senior scientists, and workshops on grant writing, leadership development, communications, and management skills. The program facilitates networking among cohorts and alumni, data sharing, cross-institutional collaboration, and the annual Leon Levy Scholars symposium held in the Spring of 2025.

The 2024 Leon Levy Scholars


Tiphaine Bailly, PhD, The Rockefeller University

Recognized for: Genetically engineering the pheromone glands of ants to study chemical communication in insect societies.


Ernesto Griego, PhD, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Recognized for: Mechanisms by which experience and brain disease modify inhibitory circuits in the dentate gyrus, a region of the brain that contributes to memory and learning.


Deepak Kaji, MD, PhD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Recognized for: Using 3D organoids and assembloids to model abnormal protein accumulations and aggregations in the brain, a characteristic of Alzheimer’s Disease.


Jack Major, PhD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Recognized for: Understanding the long-term effects of inflammation on somatosensory neurons, cells that perceive and communicate information about external stimuli and internal states such as touch, temperature and pain.


Brigid Maloney, PhD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Recognized for: Identifying the transcriptomic (RNA transcript) specializations unique to advanced vocal learning mammals.


Amin Nejatbakhsh, PhD, Flatiron Institute

Recognized for: Statistical modeling of neural data to causally understand biological and artificial neural networks and the mechanisms therein.


Broc Pagni, PhD, NYU Langone Health

Recognized for: Identifying the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms of psychedelic-based treatments for alcohol and substance use disorders.


Adithya Rajagopalan, PhD, New York University

Recognized for: Examining how neurons within the brain’s orbitofrontal cortex, combine input from other brain regions to encode complex properties of the world that guide decision-making. 


Genelle Rankin, PhD, The Rockefeller University

Recognized for: Identifying and characterizing how thalamic nuclei, specialized areas of the thalamus responsible for relaying sensory and motor signals and regulating consciousness, supports working memory maintenance.

About the Leon Levy Foundation

The Leon Levy Foundation continues and builds upon the philanthropic legacy of Leon Levy, supporting preservation, understanding, and the expansion of knowledge, with a focus on the ancient world, arts and humanities, nature and gardens, neuroscience, human rights, and Jewish culture. The Foundation was created in 2004 from Leon Levy’s estate by his wife, founding trustee Shelby White. To learn more, visit: www.leonlevyfoundation.org.

For more information about the Scholarship program, contact: LeonLevy@nyas.org 

Media Contact: Kamala Murthy | Kmurthy@nyas.org

The Junior Academy of The New York Academy of Sciences Announced as Silver Anthem Winner in Education or Literacy Platform for the Third Annual Anthem Awards

New York, NY, January 30, 2024 – The New York Academy of Sciences announced today that its highly regarded Junior Academy has been named the Silver Anthem Winner in Education or Literacy Platform in the Third Annual Anthem Awards. Launched by The Webby Awards in 2021, the Anthem Awards honors mission-driven work of people, companies, and organizations worldwide. This year’s Anthem Award Winners were selected from a pool of over 2,000 submissions from 44 countries by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS).

“Since 2016, over 15,000 students from 100+ countries have participated in the Junior Academy, gaining knowledge while also learning to apply STEM to real-world challenges,” said Meghan Groome, PhD, Senior Vice President of Education at The New York Academy of Sciences. “Through the Junior Academy’s platform Launchpad, students can engage in a world-class science program, meeting students worldwide and gaining technical and fundamental work-ready skills such as collaboration, communication, and problem-solving. We thank our sponsors for making the Junior Academy possible.”

The New York Academy of Sciences’ Junior Academy was relaunched in 2016 as an online community and collaboration platform. It currently has over 2,500 members from over 80 countries. The platform is designed to directly address the opportunity gap between young people who love STEM but have limited opportunities to participate in work-ready programs such as research experiences and internships. The Junior Academy recruits thousands of high school students worldwide who self-assemble into virtual teams through a custom-designed virtual platform called Launchpad to solve real-world problems using STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). Using technology to reach students traditionally shut out of science and STEM careers ensures that any student with internet access can participate in this world-class science program. The goal is to identify and connect the students and give them the tools to solve growing local and global problems. By solving real-world problems, students will build both the technical and soft skills needed for the workforce of the future.

“The Anthem Awards were born out of the desire to amplify and celebrate the voices that are creating sustainable change and to inspire others to take action,” said Patricia McLoughlin, Anthem Awards General Manager. “In a year where so much is at stake, it is incredibly important to recognize impact work and celebrate the progress happening globally. Congratulations to all of this year’s Winners.”


About The Anthem Awards

Launched in 2021 by The Webby Awards, The Anthem Awards honors the purpose and mission-driven work of people, companies and organizations worldwide. The Anthem Awards was launched in response to the prevalence social good has taken within the national conversation and cultural zeitgeist in recent years. By amplifying the voices that spark global change, we’re defining a new benchmark for impactful work that inspires others to take action in their own communities. The Anthem Awards honors work across seven core causes: Diversity; Equity & Inclusion; Education; Art & Culture; Health; Human & Civil Rights; Humanitarian Action & Services; Responsible Technology; and Sustainability, Environment & Climate. Founded in partnership with the Ad Council, Born This Way Foundation, Feeding America, Glaad, Mozilla, NAACP, NRDC, WWF, and XQ.

About The Webby Awards

Hailed as the “Internet’s highest honor” by The New York Times, The Webby Awards is the leading international awards organization honoring excellence on the Internet, including Websites; Video; Advertising, Media & PR; Apps, Mobile, and Voice; Social; Podcasts; and Games. Established in 1996, The Webby Awards received more than 13,500 entries from all 50 states and 70 countries worldwide this year. The Webby Awards are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS). Sponsors and Partners of The Webby Awards include Verizon, WP Engine, YouGov, Brandlive, Canva, NAACP, KPMG, Fast Company, Wall Street Journal, MediaPost, Podcast Movement, and AIGA.

Media Contact: Kamala Murthy

Email: Kmurthy@nyas.org

Prestigious Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in the UK to bestow £480,000 to nine scientists across the UK

  • The 2024 Awards recognise scientific advances driven by researchers who have:
    • Used new research in RNA structure to improve crop resilience
    • Detected water and other life-signalling molecules from planets beyond the solar system
    • Designed new enzymes never before seen in nature or a lab
    • Encoded photons with information in new ways that enable the possibility for high-capacity quantum communication networks for the first time
  • Heriot-Watt University in Scotland and the John Innes Centre in Norwich, England, are honoured for the first time.
  • Five of the nine honourees come from ethnic minority groups of the UK academic community.

17 January 2024 – London – Today, the Blavatnik Family Foundation and The New York Academy of Sciences have announced the nine recipients of the 2024 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in the UK. The grants, totalling £480,000, recognize research that is transforming medicine, technology, and our understanding of the world across three categories: Chemical Sciences, Physical Sciences & Engineering, and Life Sciences.

This year’s Laureates, selected by an independent jury of expert scientists across the UK, will each receive £100,000 in unrestricted funds:

Green

Professor Anthony P. Green, an organic chemist from The University of Manchester, has been named the Chemical Sciences Laureate for his discoveries in designing and engineering new enzymes, with valuable catalytic functions previously unknown in nature that address societal needs. Recent examples include the development of biocatalysts to produce COVID-19 therapies, to break down plastics, and to use visible light to drive chemical reactions.

Nair

Professor Rahul R. Nair, a materials physicist at The University of Manchester, was named Laureate in Physical Sciences & Engineering for developing novel membranes based on two-dimensional (2D) materials that will enable energy-efficient separation and filtration technologies. Using graphene and other 2D materials, his research aims to study the transport of water, organic molecules, and ions at the nanoscale, exploring its potential applications to address societal challenges, including water filtration and other separation technologies.

McGranahan

Dr. Nicholas McGranahan, a computational biologist from University College London (UCL), was named the Life Sciences Laureate. His research explores how to harness evolutionary principles to understand cancers and why tumours are so difficult to treat. His work also aims to understand why and how tumours spread to other parts of the body and to explore the interaction between cancer and the immune system. His work is intended to inform clinical decision-making, identify determinants of treatment resistance, and promote the development of personalized immunotherapies.

Now in its seventh year, the Awards are the largest unrestricted prizes available to UK scientists aged 42 or younger, donating £3.3 million to scientists across UK academia since their inception. Internationally recognised by the scientific community, the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists are instrumental in expanding the engagement and recognition of young scientists and provide the support and encouragement needed to drive scientific innovation for the next generation.

The jury also selected two Finalists from each category, who will each receive £30,000:

  • Fernanda Duarte, PhD, from the University of Oxford (Chemical Sciences)
  • Samuel D. Stranks, DPhil, from the University of Cambridge (Chemical Sciences)
  • Jayne Birkby, PhD, from the University of Oxford (Physical Sciences & Engineering)
  • Mehul Malik, PhD, from Heriot-Watt University (Physical Sciences & Engineering)
  • Tanmay Bharat, PhD, from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (Life Sciences)
  • Yiliang Ding, PhD, from the John Innes Centre (Life Sciences)

This is the first year that Heriot-Watt University and the John Innes Centre were recognised by the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in the UK. The 2024 Awards received 84 nominations from 40 academic and research institutions.

“Providing recognition and funding early in a scientist’s career can make the difference between discoveries that remain in the lab and those that make transformative scientific breakthroughs,” said Sir Leonard Blavatnik, Founder and Chairman of Access Industries and Head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation.“We are proud that the Awards have promoted both UK science and the careers of many brilliant young scientists and we look forward to their additional discoveries in the years ahead.”

Professor Nicholas B. Dirks, President and CEO of The New York Academy of Sciences and Chair of the Awards’ Scientific Advisory Council, noted, “From studying cancer to identifying water in far-off planets, to laying the groundwork for futuristic quantum communications systems, to making enzymes never seen before in a lab or in nature, this year’s Laureates and Finalists are pushing the boundaries of science and working to make the world a better place. Thank you to this year’s jury for sharing their time and expertise in selecting these daring and bold scientists as the winning Laureates and Finalists of the 2024 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in the UK.”

The Blavatnik Awards in the UK sit alongside their global counterparts, the Blavatnik National Awards and the Blavatnik Regional Awards in the United States, and the Blavatnik Awards in Israel, all of which honour and support exceptional early-career scientists. By the close of 2024, the Blavatnik Awards will have awarded prizes totalling US$17.2 million. About 60% of all recipients are immigrants to the country in which they were recognised; honourees hail from 54 countries across six continents, reflecting the Blavatnik Family Foundation’s recognition that groundbreaking science is a global enterprise.

Blavatnik Awards scholars are driving economic growth by embarking on new scientific trajectories to pursue high-risk, high-reward scientific research. To date, Blavatnik Awards honourees have founded 72 companies. After recognition by the Blavatnik Awards, 30% of past honourees obtained a patent or filed a patent application, 75% have started a new research direction, and 11% have started a new collaboration with another Blavatnik Awards honouree.

The 2024 Blavatnik Awards in the UK Laureates and Finalists will be honoured at a black-tie gala dinner and award ceremony at Banqueting House in Whitehall, London, on 27 February 2024; Professor Irene Tracey, vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford, will serve as ceremony presenter. The following day, on 28 February 2024 from 11:00 to 17:00 GMT, the honourees will present their research with a series of short, interactive lectures at a free public symposium at the RSA House located at 8 John Adam St., London. To attend the symposium, click HERE to register.

Notes to Editors

To follow the progress of the Blavatnik Awards, please visit the Awards’ website (www.blavatnikawards.org) or follow us on Facebook and X (@BlavatnikAwards).

For media requests, please contact: 

For further details about the 2024 Blavatnik Awards in the UK Laureates and Finalists, the Blavatnik Family Foundation, and the New York Academy of Sciences, please see below.

About the Laureates

Chemical Sciences

Anthony P. Green, PhD, The University of Manchester – Designing and engineering new enzymes with functions beyond those found in nature to make the materials that society needs

As Professor of Organic and Biological Chemistry at The University of Manchester, Professor Anthony P. Green studies and designs enzymes – nature’s catalysts – that speed up almost all of the biochemical processes needed for life. He was recognised for the targeted engineering of enzymes to catalyse new chemical reactions not possible using conventional techniques. Building from fundamentals of synthetic chemistry, Professor Green designs and evolves bespoke enzymes to perform valuable chemical reactions, unlocking synthetic pathways never seen before in chemistry labs or in nature. His research allows the chemical industry to develop more efficient and environmentally benign ways to solve global challenges, from making new pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, or biofuels to breaking down environmental pollutants such as plastics.

Physical Sciences & Engineering

Rahul R. Nair, PhD, The University of Manchester – Studying two-dimensional materials to explore their potential applications in water filtration and other separation technologies

As Professor of Materials Physics and Carlsberg/Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair at The University of Manchester, Professor Rahul R. Nair conducts research in two-dimensional (2D) material-based membranes, using the technology to solve real-world global challenges. Professor Nair’s work on graphene oxide and other 2D material membranes highlights their potential in various real-world applications: water filtration and seawater desalination, organic solvent nanofiltration, and intelligent membranes for filtration and biomedical uses. Additionally, his research has provided valuable insights into the movement of water and other molecules in nanocapillaries, as those movements differ from their behaviour on the macro scale.

Life Sciences

Nicholas McGranahan, PhD, University College London (UCL) – Harnessing evolutionary principles to understand cancers, tumour development, and metastasis, laying the foundation for developing new treatment approaches

Cancer remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide; for each patient, cancer manifests differently, but it is always an uncertain diagnosis. Computational biologist and Principal Research Fellow at University College London (UCL), Dr. Nicholas McGranahan, was recognised for developing computational analyses to understand how tumours have developed and how they might be treated. Dr. McGranahan’s work has laid a foundation for exploring tumour development as an evolutionary process. He has developed tools to permit researchers to understand the genetic faults that have accumulated during a tumour’s development and to evaluate how these can be harnessed to predict the tumour’s future trajectory. His tools also allow researchers to determine how we might design more effective cancer treatments, which are specific to each individual tumour.

About the Finalists

Chemical Sciences

Fernanda Duarte, PhD, University of Oxford – Developing cutting-edge computational tools to simulate chemical reactions and design new molecules for future therapeutics

Professor Fernanda Duarte, Associate Professor of Computational Organic Chemistry at the University of Oxford, is developing groundbreaking computational tools to simulate chemical reactions, optimise chemical synthesis, and guide the design of new molecules. Professor Duarte integrates molecular modelling with advances in computer science to address pressing challenges in computational chemistry. A key application of Professor Duarte’s work is the identification of new therapeutic agents to address global health challenges. The traditional drug discovery process is time consuming and costly, but through her new techniques, Professor Duarte can screen and analyse large chemical libraries quickly, identifying potential drug candidates before the rigors of experimental testing.

Samuel D. Stranks, DPhil, University of Cambridge  – Improving the efficiency of next-generation solar cells through studying the behaviour and stability of their key component, perovskite materials

Traditional silicon-based solar cell technology has reached an efficiency plateau. Next-generation solar cells based on perovskite materials hold extraordinary potential to improve solar panel efficiency. Despite their high efficiency, perovskite solar cells have several technical challenges to address before they can be widely deployed commercially. These include pushing performances to their potential efficiency limits and stopping performance degradation over long-term operation. Professor Samuel D. Stranks, Professor of Optoelectronics at the University of Cambridge, has developed novel techniques to study the optical and electronic properties of novel perovskite semiconductors to inform the design of low-cost, high-performance and stable technologies to drive society’s next-generation energy transition.

Physical Sciences & Engineering

Jayne Birkby, PhD, University of Oxford – Detecting water in the atmosphere of an exoplanet with robust evidence, for the first time

For centuries, the question of life beyond Earth has captivated human imagination. Today, thanks to the tireless efforts of astrophysicists like Professor Jayne Birkby, Associate Professor of Exoplanetary Science and Tutorial Fellow in Physics at Brasenose College at the University of Oxford, this inquiry is no longer a matter of speculation. Professor Birkby was recognised for detecting water in the atmosphere of an exoplanet – a planet that is beyond the solar system – with robust evidence, for the first time, and continuously advancing cutting-edge spectroscopy and imaging techniques for exoplanet research. Professor Birkby’s work accelerates the quest to identify life-signalling molecules like oxygen, methane, water, and carbon dioxide on nearby exoplanets.

Mehul Malik, PhD, Heriot-Watt University – Encoding information onto photons in new ways that create a pathway towards a future quantum internet

While still in its infancy, quantum communication technology holds the promise of unprecedented levels of information security, positioning itself as the indispensable backbone for the future functioning of human society. Quantum physicist and Professor of Physics, Professor Mehul Malik, is advancing quantum communications at Heriot-Watt University through revolutionary techniques that harness high-dimensional entanglement, a complex quantum physics phenomenon. Professor Malik’s innovations enable the normally fragile entanglement to survive long distances and harsh conditions, laying the foundation for noise-robust and high-capacity quantum networks that securely transmit large amounts of information encoded on individual photons.

Life Sciences

Yiliang Ding, PhD, John Innes Centre – Unveiling the functional roles of RNA structure in living cells as the key to RNA structure-based therapeutics and crop improvement

RNA biologist Dr. Yiliang Ding serves as Group Leader at the John Innes Centre, where she is developing innovative methods for profiling RNA structures in living cells. RNA has long been known as a crucial part of the central dogma of cellular biology, where DNA is transcribed into RNA and then translated into protein. However, less is known about the complex structures into which RNA can be formed and the importance of these structures in regulating diverse biological processes. Dr. Ding’s research is delivering new insights into the functional roles of RNA structures in gene regulation. This pioneering research provides a springboard for the global use of RNA structure-guided molecular designs in therapeutics and crop improvement.

Tanmay Bharat, PhD, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology – Tackling human health by understanding the mechanisms of biofilm and microbiome formation through new cutting-edge electron cryotomography (cryo-ET) techniques

Microorganisms such as bacteria and archaea are commonly found in complex multicellular communities; however, relatively little is understood about how these multicellular communities form. Dr. Tanmay Bharat, structural microbiologist and Programme Leader in the Structural Studies Division at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, has developed and applied cutting-edge cryo-ET techniques to create atomic-level pictures of cell surface molecules on microorganisms, revealing how these molecules mediate the formation of multicellular communities. Dr. Bharat’s work has important biomedical implications, since most pathogenic bacteria infect humans by forming multicellular, antibiotic-resistant, biofilm communities. This work is also vital for the fundamental understanding of the dynamics of cell-to-cell interactions that led to the historical evolution of multicellular life on earth.

About the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists

The Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, established by the Blavatnik Family Foundation in 2007 and independently administered by The New York Academy of Sciences, began by identifying outstanding scientific talent in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. In 2014, the Blavatnik National Awards were created to recognise faculty-rank scientists throughout the United States. In 2017, the Awards were further expanded to honour faculty-rank scientists in the UK and Israel. For updates about the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, please visit www.blavatnikawards.org or follow us on X and Facebook @BlavatnikAwards.

About the Blavatnik Family Foundation

The Blavatnik Family Foundation provides many of the world’s best researchers, scientists, and future leaders with the support and funding needed to solve humankind’s greatest challenges. Led by Sir Leonard Blavatnik, founder and chairman of Access Industries, the Foundation advances and promotes innovation, discovery, and creativity to benefit the whole of society. Over the past decade, the Foundation has contributed more than US$1 billion to more than 250 organisations. See more at www.blavatnikfoundation.org.

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Takeda and The New York Academy of Sciences Announce 2024 Innovators in Science Award Winners

  • 2024 Award Celebrates Outstanding Research in Cancer Immunology
  • Winners Discovered Novel Connections Between the Immune System and Cancer
  • Recipients Each Receive Unrestricted USD 200,000 Awards

OSAKA, Japan, and CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts, December 5, 2023 – Takeda (TSE:4502/NYSE:TAK) and The New York Academy of Sciences today announced the winners of the 2024 Innovators in Science Award for their excellence in, and commitment to, innovative science that has significantly advanced the field of research in cancer immunology. Each winner receives an unrestricted prize of USD 200,000.

The 2024 Senior Scientist winner is Robert D. Schreiber, Ph.D., the Andrew M. and Jane M. Bursky Distinguished Professor of Pathology and Immunology and director of The Bursky Center for Human Immunology and Immunotherapy at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Schreiber is an international leader in the fields of tumor immunology and cytokine biology. His early work was foundational in characterizing the role of cytokines in promoting immune responses to cancer. Dr. Schreiber pioneered the concept of “cancer immunoediting,” which describes how the immune system can induce, promote and prevent cancer. He also identified a novel subset of immune cells that interfere with cancer immunotherapy.

“I began researching the connection between the immune system and cancer more than 40 years ago. Along the way my research has benefitted from the contributions of more than 70 colleagues, technicians and trainees who have helped build on both our small discoveries and setbacks to make connections that are now transforming cancer research and treatment,” said Dr. Schreiber. “Scientific research is rewarding even when it takes decades to see results, which is why this award is so meaningful to me.”

The 2024 Early-Career Scientist winner is Elham Azizi, Ph.D., assistant professor of biomedical engineering, and the Herbert and Florence Irving Assistant Professor of Cancer Data Research at Columbia University. Dr. Azizi is recognized for developing a suite of computational tools and models that leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to characterize immune profiles in the tumor microenvironment. Her novel machine learning algorithms are applied to data from genomic and imaging technologies, guiding improved and personalized cancer therapies. Dr. Azizi’s work has helped identify immune components involved in anti-tumor responses and characterize immune states that promote tumor progression and response to immunotherapy. Her innovative models have identified, for the first time, determinants of immunotherapy response in leukemia.

“This award is a significant recognition of our efforts to push the boundaries of cancer immunology through innovations in statistical machine learning,” said Dr. Azizi. “The Innovators in Science Award motivates me, my team and the broader community to continue on the path of blending multiple fields to find creative cancer immunology solutions. This award will allow me and my team to forge new collaborations and explore high-risk and ambitious directions in our mission to help patients.”

“We are inspired by the groundbreaking work of Dr. Schreiber and Dr. Azizi to deepen our understanding of both the immune response to cancer and immunotherapies,” said Andrew Plump, M.D., Ph.D., president of research & development at Takeda. “There has been remarkable progress in treating cancer with immunotherapies, thanks to the advances of these researchers and others. Takeda proudly supports the Innovators in Science Award to honor researchers who share in our goal to improve lives through the relentless pursuit of science.”

“Cancer is the second-leading cause of death worldwide. We are proud to join Takeda to champion pioneering medical researchers around the world who seek to harness the power of the body’s own immune system to fight cancer,” said Nicholas Dirks, president and chief executive officer of The New York Academy of Sciences. “The 2024 Innovators in Science Award winners are using AI, computational tools and groundbreaking methods to fight cancer and advance the field of cancer immunology. We congratulate the winners and eagerly await their future discoveries.”

The 2024 winners will be honored at the Innovators in Science Award ceremony and symposium in April 2024 in Boston. For more information, visit TakedaInnovators.com.


About the Innovators in Science Award

Established in 2016, the Innovators in Science Award grants two unrestricted prizes of USD 200,000 each award cycle: one to an early-career scientist and the other to a well-established senior scientist who have distinguished themselves for the creative thinking and impact of their research. The Innovators in Science Award is a limited submission competition in which research universities, academic institutions, government, or non-profit institutions, or equivalent from around the globe with a well-established record of scientific excellence are invited to nominate their most promising early-career scientists and their most outstanding senior scientists. The therapeutic focus rotates each year. The 2024 focus is cancer immunology. Prize winners are determined by a panel of judges, independently selected by The New York Academy of Sciences, with expertise in these disciplines. The New York Academy of Sciences administers the Award in partnership with Takeda. For more information, visit TakedaInnovators.com.

About Takeda

Takeda is focused on creating better health for people and a brighter future for the world. We aim to discover and deliver life-transforming treatments in our core therapeutic and business areas, including gastrointestinal and inflammation, rare diseases, plasma-derived therapies, oncology, neuroscience and vaccines. Together with our partners, we aim to improve the patient experience and advance a new frontier of treatment options through our dynamic and diverse pipeline. As a leading values-based, R&D-driven biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Japan, we are guided by our commitment to patients, our people and the planet. Our employees in approximately 80 countries and regions are driven by our purpose and are grounded in the values that have defined us for more than two centuries. For more information, visit www.takeda.com.

Media Contacts:

The New York Academy of Sciences

Kamala Murthy
Kmurthy@nyas.org

Takeda

Japanese Media:
Yuko Yoneyama
yuko.yoneyama@takeda.com

U.S. and International Media:
Kerry Bryant
kerry.bryant@takeda.com

The Junior Academy of The New York Academy of Sciences Honored as a Finalist in the Education, Art, & Culture category for the Third Annual Anthem Awards

New York, NY, December 5, 2023 – The New York Academy of Sciences announced today that its highly regarded Junior Academy has been named a Finalist in the Education, Art, & Culture category in the Third Annual Anthem Awards. The Anthem Awards, launched by The Webby Awards in 2021, honors the purpose and mission-driven work of people, companies, and organizations worldwide.

“The New York Academy of Sciences is thrilled that our esteemed Junior Academy was selected from the more than 2,000 entries from over 30 countries worldwide as a Finalist for the 2024 Anthem Awards,” said Nicholas Dirks, president and chief executive officer of The New York Academy of Sciences. “Since 2016, over 15,000 students from 100+ countries have participated in the Junior Academy, gaining knowledge but also learning to apply STEM to real-world challenges such as combatting climate change, breeches in cybersecurity, and identifying ways to reduce bias in AI successfully. We thank our sponsors for making the Junior Academy possible.”

As an Anthem Awards Finalist, the Junior Academy will be considered by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS) for the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Anthem Award and the Anthem Community Voice Award, supported by the online public vote. From December 5th to December 21st, fans can support the Junior Academy on the Anthem Awards’ public voting page HERE. The Third Annual Anthem Awards winners will be announced on Tuesday, January 30th, 2024.

The New York Academy of Sciences Junior Academy was relaunched in 2016 as an online community and collaboration platform. It currently has over 2,500 members from over 80 countries. The platform is designed to directly address the opportunity gap between young people who love STEM but have limited opportunities to participate in work-ready programs such as research experiences and internships. The Junior Academy recruits thousands of high school students worldwide who self-assemble into virtual teams through a custom-designed virtual platform called Launchpad to solve real-world problems using STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). Using technology to reach students traditionally shut out of science and STEM careers, ensures that any student with internet access can participate in this world-class science program. The goal is to identify and connect the students and give them the tools to solve growing local and global problems. By solving real-world problems, students will build both the technical and soft skills needed for the workforce of the future. These students have not only gained new content knowledge but applied it in a way that shows them the importance of STEM education. In addition to technical skills, they also learn critical work-ready skills such as collaboration, communication, and problem solving.

“Since launching the Anthem Awards in 2021, we’ve seen incredible change and growth in the impact sector,” said Anthem Awards General Manager, Patricia McLoughlin. “The work that we have received in the 3rd Annual Anthem Awards is game-changing. From innovative projects fighting climate change to impactful calls for equal rights across the globe and best-in-class CSR and ESG efforts – the Anthem Community is a bright light in our uncertain world.”

About The New York Academy of Sciences

The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that has been committed to advancing science for the benefit of society since 1817. With more than 20,000 Members in 100 countries, the Academy advances scientific and technical knowledge, addresses global challenges with science-based solutions, and sponsors a wide variety of educational initiatives at all levels for STEM and STEM-related fields. The Academy hosts programs and publishes content in the life and physical sciences, the social sciences, nutrition, artificial intelligence, computer science, and sustainability. The Academy also provides professional and educational resources for researchers across all phases of their careers. For more information, visit www.nyas.org.

About The Anthem Awards

Launched in 2021 by The Webby Awards, The Anthem Awards honors the purpose and mission-driven work of people, companies and organizations worldwide. The Anthem Awards was launched in response to the prevalence social good has taken within the national conversation and cultural zeitgeist in recent years. By amplifying the voices that spark global change, we’re defining a new benchmark for impactful work that inspires others to take action in their own communities. The Anthem Awards honors work across seven core causes: Diversity; Equity & Inclusion; Education; Art & Culture; Health; Human & Civil Rights; Humanitarian Action & Services; Responsible Technology; and Sustainability, Environment & Climate. Founded in partnership with the Ad Council, Born This Way Foundation, Feeding America, Glaad, Mozilla, NAACP, NRDC, WWF, and XQ.

About The Webby Awards

Hailed as the “Internet’s highest honor” by The New York Times, The Webby Awards is the leading international awards organization honoring excellence on the Internet, including Websites; Video; Advertising, Media & PR; Apps, Mobile, and Voice; Social; Podcasts; and Games. Established in 1996, The Webby Awards received more than 13,500 entries from all 50 states and 70 countries worldwide this year. The Webby Awards are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS). Sponsors and Partners of The Webby Awards include Verizon, WP Engine, YouGov, Brandlive, Canva, NAACP, KPMG, Fast Company, Wall Street Journal, MediaPost, Podcast Movement, and AIGA.

Media Contact: Kamala Murthy
Email: Kmurthy@nyas.org

First Winners of the Tata Transformation Prize Announced Today, Celebrating Pathbreaking Innovation in India

Three rising stars in science are recognized for their cutting-edge solutions to food security, sustainability, and healthcare.

Published November 07, 2023

Mumbai, India – 7 November 2023: Tata Sons and The New York Academy of Sciences today announced the first Winners of the Tata Transformation Prize. The prize recognizes and supports visionary scientists in India who are developing innovative solutions to critical societal challenges.

Three scientists were selected from 169 entries by an international jury of renowned experts for their innovations in food security, sustainability, and healthcare. Each winner will receive INR 2 crores (approximately US$240,000) and will be honoured at a ceremony in Mumbai in December 2023. The jury included distinguished scientists, clinicians, technologists, and engineers spanning six continents from a variety of organizations, including IBM Research, Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Public Health Foundation of India, and UN-Habitat.

The 2023 Tata Transformation Prize Winners are:

Food Security Winner: Shilpi Sharma, PhD, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi
Professor Shilpi Sharma was selected by the jury for her work in the engineering of the soil microbiome using synthetic microbial communities, called microBIOme-based soil TRANSFORMation (BIOTRANSFORM). Plant diseases threaten crop productivity and, consequently, the global economy. Unlike conventional farming that uses agrochemicals and synthetic fertilizers, soil amended organically has the natural ability to suppress a wide range of plant pathogens. Starting from naturally suppressive soil, Shilpi will catalog the active microbial players and their mechanism of suppression of a range of phytopathogens. Her work will be the first to map the natural suppressive potential of soil across six states of India and to harness this potential by microbiome engineering to facilitate sustainable agriculture in the country and beyond.

Sustainability Winner: Purnananda Guptasarma, PhD, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Mohali
Professor Purnananda Guptasarma was selected by the jury for his breakthrough methods to degrade polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a common plastic pollutant, using enzymes. PET is currently produced and used at unsustainable levels, creating worldwide plastic pollution and micro-plastic contamination in the air, water, and soil, as well as in animal and human bodies. Only 9% of PET is actually recycled worldwide. Guptasarma’s enzyme-driven strategy uses engineered thermostable enzymes and reactions to demonstrate that solid PET can be broken up into its smallest molecular building blocks with high yield and ultra-high purity to enable PET’s degradation and recycling into virgin plastic. Building on this proof of concept at the laboratory-scale, Guptasarma will further identify and improve enzymatic reagents and reactions for PET degradation and attempt to produce the best enzymes in quantities allowing pilot-scale PET-waste degradation and recycling.

Healthcare Winner: Anurag S. Rathore, PhD, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi
Professor Anurag S. Rathore is a healthcare pioneer aiming to reduce the manufacturing cost of biotherapeutics for treating cancer and autoimmune diseases, thus enabling equal access to these top-tier, expensive treatments currently out of reach for 90% of the Indian population. Rathore has established a state-of-the-art drug manufacturing facility with continuous processing that incorporates novel methods for real-time process monitoring and control. Rathore’s innovation is projected to reduce manufacturing costs by 50-75%, making best-in-class biotherapeutics for complex diseases significantly more affordable for Indian populations in need and further advancing India’s position at the forefront of global medical innovation.

N. Chandrasekaran, Chairman of the Board of Tata Sons, said, “We are extremely delighted to announce the first cohort of Tata Transformation Prize winners and their groundbreaking innovations aimed at solving India’s national problems in the areas of food security, sustainability, and healthcare. On behalf of Tata Sons, we are pleased to provide these scientists a global stage to take their technologies from India to the rest of the world.”

Nicholas Dirks, President and CEO of The New York Academy of Sciences, said, “Congratulations to the first Winners of the 2023 Tata Transformation Prize. From developing new soil enhancements to improve crop yield, creating methods to make critical medicines available to all, and developing techniques to tackle plastic pollution, these scientists are making important contributions to Indian society and the world. We also thank the jury for sharing their time and expertise in reviewing the submissions in the first year of the Tata Transformation Prize.”

ABOUT THE TATA TRANSFORMATION PRIZE

The Tata Transformation Prize was established in 2022 by Tata Sons and The New York Academy of Sciences to support breakthrough, innovative technologies that address India’s most significant challenges. By recognizing and supporting the implementation at scale of high-risk, high-reward research, the Prize will drive impactful innovation in scientific disciplines of importance to India’s societal needs and economic competitiveness. The Prize will leverage the exceptional potential of scientists in India to address critical national challenges in three categories—Food Security, Sustainability, and Healthcare—and generate improved life quality outcomes across India and beyond. The Tata Transformation Prize recognizes one Winner in each category, with INR 2 crores (approximately US$240,000) for each Winner. Click here for more information about the Tata Transformation Prize.

ABOUT THE TATA GROUP

Founded by Jamsetji Tata in 1868, the Tata Group is a global enterprise, headquartered in India, comprising 30 companies across ten verticals. The group operates in more than 100 countries across six continents, with a mission ‘To improve the quality of life of the communities we serve globally, through long-term stakeholder value creation based on Leadership with Trust’.

Tata Sons is the principal investment holding company and promoter of Tata companies. Sixty-six percent of the equity share capital of Tata Sons is held by philanthropic trusts, which support education, health, livelihood generation and art and culture.

In 2022-23, the revenue of Tata companies, taken together, was $150 billion (INR 12 trillion). These companies collectively employ over 1 million people. Each Tata company or enterprise operates independently under the guidance and supervision of its own board of directors. There are 29 publicly listed Tata enterprises with a combined market capitalisation of $300 billion (INR 24 trillion) as on July 31, 2023. Companies include Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Motors, Tata Steel, Tata Chemicals, Tata Consumer Products, Titan, Tata Capital, Tata Power, Tata Communications, Indian Hotels, Tata Digital, Air India and Tata Electronics. Website: https://www.tata.com

The Tata Transformation Prize is the latest in a series of prominent awards and scholarship programs The New York Academy of Sciences and its partners present each year to accomplished early-career and established scientists worldwide. These initiatives, along with education and professional development programs for students and young scientists, reflect the Academy’s broader commitment to strengthening and diversifying the pipeline for skilled and talented scientists globally. Please visit us online at nyas.org.

Media Contacts:

The New York Academy of Sciences

Kamala Murthy
Kmurthy@nyas.org

Tata Sons

Harsha Ramachandra
harsha.r@tata.com

2023 Blavatnik Regional Awards for Young Scientists Honorees Announced

NEW YORK – August 9, 2023 – The Blavatnik Family Foundation and The New York Academy of Sciences today announced the three Laureates and six Finalists of the 2023 Blavatnik Regional Awards for Young Scientists. The Awards honor outstanding postdoctoral scientists from academic research institutions across New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut in three disciplinary categories: Chemistry, Physical Sciences & Engineering, and Life Sciences.

The Blavatnik Regional Awards jury, consisting of distinguished scientists and engineers from across the New York Tri-State region, selected one Laureate in each of the three categories who will receive a $30,000 unrestricted prize and two Finalists in each category who will be awarded $10,000 each. In the 2023 competition, there were 121 outstanding nominations from 28 academic institutions in the New York metropolitan region (Tri-State Area). The 2023 Blavatnik Regional Awards Laureates and Finalists will be honored during National Postdoctoral Appreciation Week, which recognizes the significant contributions that postdoctoral scholars make to U.S. research and discovery. The 2023 Ceremony of the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, will take place at the American Museum of Natural History in New York on September 19, 2023.

“Congratulations to this year’s Regional Awards Laureates and Finalists. We look forward to their future significant discoveries,” said Len Blavatnik, Founder and Chairman of Access Industries, head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation.

Nicholas B. Dirks, The New York Academy of Sciences’ President and CEO, said, “Congratulations to the 2023 Blavatnik Regional Awards Laureates and Finalists. This year’s Regional honorees are driving cutting-edge research, making important contributions to the area’s current and future scientific excellence. Many are publishing research at rapid speed, taking creative risks in their research, while actively working to create a more diverse STEM workforce. These are the young scientific superstars we should be watching.”

The 2023 Blavatnik Regional Awards Laureates in the three award categories are:

Chemistry

Joonho Lee, PhD, (quantum chemist) nominated by Columbia University— was recognized for the development of state-of-the-art quantum chemistry algorithms for classical and quantum computers. Lee’s work aims to provide a microscopic understanding of emergent functional materials, including solar cells, electrocatalysts for the hydrogen economy, and optoelectronics. Lee has recently joined the faculty at Harvard University.

Physical Sciences & Engineering

Zoe Yan, PhD, (physicist) nominated by Princeton University — was recognized for developing the first quantum gas microscope on single, ultracold molecules and applying this technique to explore important phenomena relevant to high-temperature superconductors and other quantum materials. Yan’s work opened a new venue to study complex quantum phenomena previously inaccessible by other instruments and holds great potential in future quantum technologies. Yan has recently joined the faculty at The University of Chicago.

Life Sciences

Yanxiang Deng, PhD, (biomedical engineer) nominated by Yale University — was recognized for developing a novel microfluidic method for “spatial-omics” to profile expression of RNA, proteins, and epigenetic markers across spatially organized groups of cells in tissues. Deng’s work has allowed us to construct a map of how RNA, proteins, and epigenetic markers are expressed across groups of cells with respect to cells’ relative positions. This work provides critical insight about how cells in different regions change their behavior during processes like development and disease. Deng has recently joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania.

The following postdoctoral researchers have been named Finalists in their respective categories:

Chemistry

Elena Meirzadeh, PhD, (materials chemist), nominated by Columbia University — was recognized for synthesizing a molecular two-dimensional form of carbon that has opened up a new class of materials with enormous potential applications in energy storage and tunable optoelectronics. Her new carbon crystals are formed from superatoms—large molecules made from many atoms—and they have a higher thermal conductivity than other forms of molecular carbon, making them uniquely able to dissipate heat. Meirzadeh has recently joined the faculty at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

Brittany M. White-Mathieu, PhD, (chemical biologist) nominated by Cornell University

was recognized for advancing the field of chemical imaging to further our understanding of lipids and their role in cellular function and disease, including cancer. She has created a revolutionary method, Lipid Expansion Microscopy, that enables super-resolution imaging of lipids within cells using widely available instrumentation. White-Mathieu’s work enables direct study of these compounds in cellular membranes where critical cell signaling events and nutrient exchange occur. White-Mathieu will begin a new faculty position at the University of New Hampshire in late August 2023.

Physical Sciences & Engineering

Micah Goldblum, PhD, (computer scientist) nominated by New York University — was recognized for substantial contributions to various aspects of deep learning—a leading technique of artificial intelligence. His work has not only transformed our understanding of the foundations of deep learning, but also improved its data security. Goldblum also broadened the application of deep learning in data-scarce situations, such as leveraging large volumes of diagnostic data for common diseases to improve diagnoses on rare ones.

Adam Overvig, PhD, (applied physicist) nominated by CUNY Graduate Center — was recognized for developing a new paradigm for manipulating light and thermal radiation using metasurfaces—surfaces of artificial materials with nanoscale structures. Overvig’s metasurface designs enable new ways to control the behavior of light with unprecedented precision and efficiency, and are promising for a wide range of applications including electronic communications, medical imaging, quantum computing, and more.

Life Sciences

Valerie A. Tornini, PhD, (developmental biologist) nominated by Yale University — was recognized for identifying roles for novel micropeptides hidden in the vertebrate genome and chromatin regulators that tell early brain cells which kind of cell to become, to then regulate behavior of the whole organism. Tornini showed that these micropeptides and chromatin regulators have crucial roles in early neurodevelopment using zebrafish models. Furthermore, Tornini identified links between mutations in chromatin modifier genes, the resulting behaviors, and autism, informing our understanding of how to therapeutically manipulate these behaviors to treat developmental disorders.

Qiancheng Zhao, PhD, (neuroscientist) nominated by Yale University — was recognized for exploring how our brain senses internal states, such as blood pressure fluctuations, food digestion, and breathing rhythms in a process called interoception. Zhao has characterized the vagal sensory neurons, a key body-brain axis in interoception, responsible for sensing numerous and diverse body signals and relaying them to the brain with incredible precision. Zhao’s work has demonstrated that vagal sensory neurons employ a combinatorial strategy to code the essential features of an interoceptive signal, including the ‘visceral organ’, ‘tissue layer’, and ‘sensory modality’, thus facilitating effective body-to-brain communications.


About the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists

The Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, established by the Blavatnik Family Foundation in 2007 and independently administered by The New York Academy of Sciences, began by identifying outstanding scientific talent in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. In 2014, the Blavatnik National Awards were created to recognize faculty-rank scientists throughout the United States. In 2017, the Awards were further expanded to honor faculty-rank scientists in the United Kingdom and Israel. For updates about the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, please visit www.blavatnikawards.org or follow us on Twitter and Facebook @BlavatnikAwards.

About the Blavatnik Family Foundation

The Blavatnik Family Foundation supports world-renowned educational, scientific, cultural, and charitable institutions in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, and across the globe. Led by Len Blavatnik, founder and chairman of Access Industries, the Foundation advances and promotes innovation, discovery, and creativity to benefit the whole of society. Over the past decade, the Foundation has contributed more than $1 billion to over 250 organizations. See more at www.blavatnikfoundation.org

2023 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists Announced

Three National Laureates will each receive $250,000
28 scientists named National Finalists

NEW YORK, July 26, 2023 – The Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences announced today the 2023 laureates of the  Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists.

Each will receive $250,000, the largest unrestricted scientific award for America’s most innovative, faculty-ranked scientists and engineers who are under the age of 42. The winners and their distinguished research:

2023 Laureate in Life Sciences: William AndereggPh.D., The University of Utah (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology)—Revealing how trees absorb and release carbon dioxide amidst a changing climate

William Anderegg examines the interaction of plant ecology and climate change, from the scale of cells to forest ecosystems. Specifically, he addresses how drought and climate change affect the plant-soil-atmospheric systems, including tree physiology, species interactions, and biosphere-atmosphere feedbacks. His work overturns a 40-year foundational theory on how stomata—pores on leaves that facilitate photosynthesis—behave in order to improve carbon gain and minimize water loss, and in turn, how this affects global forests’ response to climate change. As a leading voice in the field of climate change, Anderegg’s discoveries are already informing climate solutions, global policies, and public health. He is the first ever winner of the Blavatnik Regional Awards to be awarded the Blavatnik National Award.

2023 Laureate in Chemistry: Shannon BoettcherPh.D., University of Oregon (Inorganic & Solid-State Chemistry)—Discovering novel methods and materials to harness electrochemistry for sustainability

Shannon Boettcher is creating sustainable, electrochemical methods central to transforming simple mixtures of water and atmospheric gases into fuels, plastics, fertilizers, and other chemicals. Boettcher’s work is grounded in the mechanistic science of understanding electrochemical reactions on the surfaces of electrified solids, particularly under practical conditions where catalysts change in structure and composition. His work builds a foundation for the development of new technologies by addressing key knowledge gaps in understanding and controlling the rates of ion- and electron-transfer across interfaces. Discoveries made in Boettcher’s laboratory are now being applied to improve industrial processes for hydrogen production and carbon capture, establishing him both as a global leader in research and in society’s transition to a green future.

2023 Laureate in Physical Sciences & Engineering: Svitlana MayborodaPh.D., University of Minnesota (Applied Mathematics)—Developed elegant new mathematical theory to understand electronic waves

Svitlana Mayboroda is using applied mathematics to provide physicists with a new fundamental understanding of the behavior of matter at nanometer scales—insights that are relevant for today’s ability to control and manipulate atomic structures. Mayboroda and her collaborators have invented an elegant technique known as localization landscape theory, which solves some long-standing problems in condensed matter physics. This mathematical framework reveals hidden structures that guide the behavior of waves at the atomic level, explaining why waves do not propagate in complex or disordered materials. Mayboroda’s ground-breaking work is leading to improvements in crucial 21st-century technologies like LED lighting, semiconductors, and solar cells.

“I congratulate all the laureates and finalists whose outstanding research gives us hope for the future,” said Len Blavatnik, founder and chairman of Access Industries. He is head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation and a member of the President’s Council of the New York Academy of Sciences.

Nicholas B. Dirks, president and CEO of The New York Academy of Sciences, said, “On behalf of the Academy, we are excited to honor our first laureate who was previously a Regional Award-winner, our first laureate in applied mathematics, and the first laureates from these three public universities. This year’s laureates are working to address major societal challenges—including problems related to energy and sustainability, climate change and forest fires, and transforming solid-state physics and semi-conductor physics—demonstrating the great significance of science for advancing the public good.”

The 2023 Blavatnik National Awards received 267 nominations from 134 institutions in 38 U.S. states. Nominees must be faculty-level scientific researchers, 42 years of age or younger.

Three independent juries —one each for life sciences, chemistry, and physical sciences and engineering —were composed of some of America’s most distinguished scientists. The juries selected three winning laureates and 28 finalists.

The Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists will celebrate the 2023 laureates and finalists in a ceremony on Sept. 19 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

FINALISTS

Life Sciences 

Kivanç BirsoyPh.D.The Rockefeller University (Molecular & Cellular Biology), developed genetic tools to study mechanisms by which human cells alter their uptake and use of nutrients to adapt to the genetic and environmental stresses observed in disease states such as cancer.

Weizhe HongPh.D.University of California, Los Angeles (Neuroscience), is advancing our understanding of prosocial behavior in animals and how it is regulated by specific neural circuits in the brain. Further, he finds that neural activities between socially interacting animals become correlated, developing a multi-brain framework for social interaction.

Cigall KadochPh.D.Dana-Farber Cancer Institute & Harvard Medical School (Molecular & Cellular Biology), examines large human genetics studies to identify a group of disease-causing mutations in a multi-protein complex called mSWI/SNF. Kadoch combined biochemistry and genetics to define the structure and function of mSWI/SNF, providing a mechanistic understanding of how mutations can disrupt normal function and cause disease.

Ian Maze, Ph.D.Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (Neuroscience), is finding that covalent binding of monoamine neurotransmitters to DNA-bound histone proteins informs neural transcriptional plasticity and function. Maze also discovered and characterized numerous brain-enriched chromatin regulatory proteins, which have led to significant improvements in our understanding of, and potential treatments for, neuropsychiatric diseases.

Noah W. PalmPh.D.Yale University (Immunology), is developing new approaches to deconvolute the complex interactions between our immune system and gut microbiota: the trillions of microorganisms that colonize and protect the gastrointestinal tract. Palm is transforming these insights into novel strategies to prevent allergies, autoimmunity, and cancer.

Sergiu P. PașcaM.D., Stanford University (Neuroscience), is pioneering the use of instructive signals to develop three-dimensional cultures of neural tissue known as organoids, and build functioning human neural circuits in preparations he named assembloids. These platforms led to a better understanding of human neural development, and subsequently, potential treatments for brain disorders.

Lei Stanley QiPh.D.Stanford University (Biomedical Engineering & Biotechnology), is making significant developments in CRISPR technologies for gene regulation, epigenome editing, chromatin imaging, and gene therapy. Qi has applied this technology to understand how gene and enhancer networks govern cancer and cell fate determination, and to combat COVID-19.

David VeeslerPh.D.University of Washington (Immunology), characterized the structure of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and identified the ACE2 receptor responsible for the virus’s entry into a cell. His research played a key role in the development of COVID-19 vaccines.

Harris H. WangPh.D.Columbia University (Biomedical Engineering & Biotechnology), developed methods for studying the spatiotemporal organization of a microbiome and editing the metagenome of the microbiome. Using these approaches, Wang mapped the spatial arrangement of microbes in complex communities and programmed them with new functions.

Chemistry 

Eric S. FischerPh.D.Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Chemical Biology), is understanding how small molecules selectively degrade proteins and is converting that knowledge into a road map for new therapeutic interventions.

Danna FreedmanPh.D.Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Inorganic & Solid-State Chemistry), is elevating molecules to the cutting edge of quantum information technology, having achieved record stability and optical read-out from a molecular quantum bit.

Prashant K. JainPh.D.University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (Physical Chemistry), is using synchronized vibrations of electrons within nanoparticles to trap light and harness its energy, for sustainable manufacturing of chemicals and zero-carbon fuels such as ammonia and hydrogen.

Jeremiah A. JohnsonPh.D.Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Polymer Chemistry), is achieving breakthrough control over the synthesis of organic polymers, unlocking real world applications ranging from more easily recycled plastics to the delivery of cancer therapeutics.

Han LiPh.D.University of California, Irvine (Chemical Engineering), is creating new tools to control the biochemical reactions in living cells with unparalleled precision, turning cells into bio-factories to manufacture a wide range of useful molecules for food, medicine, or energy.

Garret MiyakePh.D.Colorado State University (Polymer Chemistry), is harnessing light in the pursuit of sustainability, from discovering new light-driven reactions of molecules and polymers in order to create coatings that can reduce energy needs by making windows more heat reflective.

Alison NarayanPh.D.University of Michigan (Organic Chemistry), is pioneering the use of protein engineering tools to uncover new bio-catalyzed reactions for synthesis of complex molecules used in therapies or drugs.

Kerri A. Pratt, Ph.D.University of Michigan (Environmental Chemistry & Geochemistry), uses novel measurement techniques to redefine our understanding of the chemical interactions in the atmosphere of Arctic and urban winter environments, tackling the global challenges of climate change and air quality.

Yogesh SurendranathPh.D.Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Inorganic & Solid-State Chemistry), is transforming the field of electrochemistry with his development of tunable graphite-based catalysts, which he is using to reveal new molecular-level insights into electrochemical reaction mechanisms.

Physical Sciences & Engineering

Kaushik ChowdhuryPh.D.Northeastern University (Electrical Engineering), is addressing the global need of telecommunications spectrum scarcity, as well as improve connectivity by designing next generation wireless systems and machine learning-based network operations.

Ivan Z. CorwinPh.D.Columbia University (Applied Mathematics), is developing probabilistic mathematical models of interacting particle systems. Such models are important for understanding phenomena as diverse as crystal growth, traffic flow, noisy data, and the spread of disease within a population.

Jennifer A. DionnePh.D.Stanford University (Materials Science & Nanotechnology), is pioneering the development of new imaging techniques that enable direct visualization of chemical and biological processes in real time, and with nano-to-atomic scale spatial resolution.

Asegun HenryPh.D.Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering), is creating sustainable energy technologies, including ultra-low-cost and efficient grid-scale energy storage systems utilizing high-temperature liquid metals as heat transfer fluids.

Shirley HoPh.D.Flatiron Institute (Astrophysics & Cosmology), is translating what deep neural networks have learned from computational simulations and astronomical data into astrophysical insights through a combination of deep learning and other statistical techniques.

Patrick E. HopkinsPh.D.University of Virginia (Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering), is revolutionizing the design of materials to create energy-efficient devices, including ultrahigh and ultralow thermal conductivity materials, dynamically tunable thermal switches that operate like light bulbs, and thermal diodes that couple heat, light and charge.

Maryam M. Shanechi, Ph.D.University of Southern California (Electrical Engineering), is pioneering brain-machine interfaces that can model, decode, and control complex neural activity patterns by the intersection of engineering, computing, and neuroscience.

Jessica K. WerkPh.D.University of Washington (Astrophysics & Cosmology), is working with both astrophysical observations and simulations to build a comprehensive theory of galaxy evolution that includes the physics of their gaseous atmospheres—key structures that can fuel star formation for billions of years.

Sheng XuPh.D.University of California San Diego (Materials Science & Nanotechnology), is advancing wearable electronics with integrated deep-tissue sensors, multilayered configurations, and novel photovoltaic power sources, enabling continuous-monitoring technology for future healthcare.

Guihua YuPh.D.The University of Texas at Austin (Materials Science & Nanotechnology), is addressing energy and environmental challenges with innovative nanomaterials called “energy gels,” with wide-ranging applications from fast-charging batteries and electrocatalysts, to seawater desalinization and solar-powered water-harvesters for sustainable agriculture.

About the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists

The Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, established by the Blavatnik Family Foundation in 2007 and independently administered by The New York Academy of Sciences, began by identifying outstanding scientific talent in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. In 2014, the Blavatnik National Awards were created to recognize faculty-rank scientists throughout the United States. In 2017, the Awards were further expanded to honor faculty-rank scientists in the United Kingdom and Israel. For updates about the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, please visit www.blavatnikawards.org or follow us on Twitter and Facebook @BlavatnikAwards.

About the Blavatnik Family Foundation

The Blavatnik Family Foundation supports world-renowned educational, scientific, cultural, and charitable institutions in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, and across the globe. Led by Len Blavatnik, founder and chairman of Access Industries, the Foundation advances and promotes innovation, discovery, and creativity to benefit the whole of society. Over the past decade, the Foundation has contributed more than $1 billion to over 250 organizations. See more at www.blavatnikfoundation.org

Media contact

Kamala Murthy
kmurthy@nyas.org
+1 (347) 526-8480

New York Academy of Sciences, Leon Levy Foundation Name First 10 Leon Levy Scholars in Neuroscience

New York, NY, June 14, 2023 — The New York Academy of Sciences and the Leon Levy Foundation announced today the first cohort of Leon Levy Scholars in Neuroscience; a continuation of an earlier fellowship program started by the Foundation in 2009 that has supported 160 fellows in neuroscience.

This highly regarded postdoctoral program supports exceptional young researchers across the five boroughs of New York City as they pursue innovative investigations in neuroscience and advance in their careers toward becoming independent principal investigators. Designed to broaden the field and to support researchers who might otherwise not have equal opportunity to secure postdoctoral funding, ten (10) scholars were selected for a three-year term from more than a dozen institutions across New York City that offer postdoctoral positions in neuroscience.

“My husband, Leon, had a keen interest in studies of the brain after taking a psychology course as an undergraduate at City College of New York. He was fascinated by the minds of scientists,” said Shelby White, founding trustee of the Leon Levy Foundation. “We see these Leon Levy Scholars as the pathway to making great strides in neuroscience, so we are proud to support these gifted young researchers, providing them financial and career support, along with recognition, to advance their careers.”

“New York is an epicenter of neuroscience, with some of the best brain research being conducted in the United States,” said Nicholas Dirks, the Academy’s president and CEO. “Our distinguished jury selected 10 outstanding neuroscientists across the five boroughs conducting cutting-edge research. We are excited to be working with the Leon Levy Foundation to usher in this new group of young neuroscientists, providing guidance and financial support to encourage ground-breaking discoveries that will ultimately result in growth in this crucial field.”

The Scholars program features structured mentorship by distinguished senior scientists. Workshops will help Scholars with grant writing, as well as developing leadership, communications, and management skills. The programs will encourage networking, data sharing, cross-institutional collaboration and an opportunity for networking at an annual Leon Levy Scholars symposium.

The 2023 Leon Levy Scholars

Recognized for: How information about stressful events is encoded in the brain and how it can be passed through generations.

Recognized for: How contact system activation could affect the brain, and most notably the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease.

Recognized for: How the body’s physiological states—particularly hunger— affect value-based decision making.

Recognized for: Identifying the neural circuit and genetic elements that undergo the strongest selective pressures to enhance survival through the study of escape responses in closely-related fly species.

Recognized for: How music and speech is perceived, processed and distinguished in the human brain and its relevance for individuals with communication disorders.

Recognized for: Distinguishing the neural circuits that are correlated with odor identity and behavioral choice.

Recognized for: The neural circuitry of how we perceive visual social signals and how it relates to and integrates with other somatic sensory social input to shape social awareness.

Recognized for: The role of RNA regulation in non-neuronal brain cells and its impact on neuronal function.

Recognized for: Combining neuroeconomics and transcriptomics to examine decision-making dysfunction underlying regret processing in rodent stress models.

Recognized for Examining the morphology and connectivity of inhibitory neurons and subsequently, their functional ability to generate brainwaves.

About the Leon Levy Foundation

The Leon Levy Foundation continues and builds upon the philanthropic legacy of Leon Levy, supporting preservation, understanding, and the expansion of knowledge, with a focus on the ancient world, arts and humanities, nature and gardens, neuroscience, human rights, and Jewish culture. The Foundation was created in 2004 from Leon Levy’s estate by his wife, founding trustee Shelby White. To learn more, visit: www.leonlevyfoundation.org

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 for the benefit of society. With more than 20,000 Members in 100 countries, the Academy advances scientific and technical knowledge, addresses global challenges with science-based solutions, and sponsors a wide variety of educational initiatives at all levels for STEM and STEM-related fields. These include prestigious science awards programs. The Academy hosts programs and publishes content in the life and physical sciences, the social sciences, nutrition, artificial intelligence, computer science, and sustainability. The Academy also provides professional and educational resources for researchers across all phases of their careers. To learn more, visit www.nyas.org.

For more information about the Scholarship program, contact: LeonLevy@nyas.org

Media contact: Kamala Murthy | Kmurthy@nyas.org

International Science Reserve Honored as a Fast Company World Changing Idea

New York, NY – The International Science Reserve (ISR), an initiative of the New York Academy of Sciences, today announced that Fast Company honored the ISR as a World Changing Idea for its ongoing work with private and public partners to create a global scientific network focused on rapid crisis response.

The initiative was honored under the annual awards’ new “Rapid Response” category.

“Scientists from around the world want to contribute when there is a global crisis – from climate-related disasters to pandemics. The International Science Reserve is a hub for solutions, connecting scientists to collaborate across borders. That way, we can make sure that solutions are informed by the expertise and insights of researchers in lower-resource contexts, equipping them with cutting-edge tools so that they can better respond to emerging threats,” said Dr. Mila Rosenthal, Executive Director of the International Science Reserve.

This year’s World Changing Ideas Awards were chosen by a panel of Fast Company editors and reporters, who selected winners and finalists from a pool of more than 2,200 entries across urban design, education, nature, politics, technology, corporate social responsibility, and more.

Dr. Rosenthal added, “We are grateful that Fast Company recognized the ISR as a ‘World Changing Idea,’ and we encourage scientists from every discipline to join the ISR network to help tackle the next crisis, together.”

The New York Academy of Sciences launched ISR in 2022 with partners and collaborators including IBM, Google, Pfizer, UL Solutions, and the National Science Foundation.

Since 2022, the International Science Reserve has seeded a network of over 2,000 scientists from over 90 countries. The ISR has worked with its public and private partners to map and make resources more accessible to their network’s researchers, including high-performance computing, geospatial-temporal data sets, and machine learning or AI for terrain mapping and visualization.

In January, the ISR launched a first-of-its-kind partnership with IBM to increase access during crisis to real-time, complex data sets and modeling that will allow for a more effective and systematic global approach to emerging disasters and threats.

About the International Science Reserve

The International Science Reserve is an open network of scientists and scientific institutions, bringing together specialized technical resources for scientists to collaborate on preparing and responding to complex and urgent global crises. In transnational health emergencies and climate-related disasters, researchers in the ISR network will work together to help people and protect communities. Learn more about the initiative Fast Company named a “World Changing Idea” in 2023: www.isr.nyas.org

About Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards

World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and brave concepts that make the world better. A panel of judges from across sectors choose winners, finalists, and honorable mentions based on feasibility and the potential for impact. With the goals of awarding ingenuity and fostering innovation, Fast Company draws attention to ideas with great potential and helps them expand their reach to inspire more people to start working on solving the problems that affect us all.

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