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Highlights from the 2024 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in Israel Ceremony and the Blavatnik Awards Symposium

2024 Israel Laureates 3

The New York Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Blavatnik Family Foundation, hosted the annual ceremony for the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in Israel on June 4, 2024. The Awards are one of the most significant awards granted to scientists at the early stages of their careers in Israel. For the third time, the gala event was held at the Peres Center for Peace & Innovation in Tel Aviv. TV News Anchor, Tamar Ish-Shalom, from Reshet 13’s Saturday Night News, served as the evening’s presenter.

The ceremony began with a moving performance in Hebrew and English by renowned Israeli singer and actress, Roni Dalumi. She was followed by David Harel, President of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, who congratulated the Laureates and thanked the jury and the Scientific Advisory Council. President Harel remarked on the growing prestige of the Blavatnik Awards, “Looking through the list of past Blavatnik Awards Laureates, one is struck by the amazing quality of their achievements both before and after winning the prize. They all continue to exhibit impressive scientific leadership making new and surprising discoveries, inspiring their colleagues and students worldwide.” Academy President and CEO, Nicholas Dirks, thanked Len Blavatnik for his vision in promoting science for the benefit of humanity. He spoke about the importance of science for the world: “Especially, amidst severe geopolitical tensions, we need to remember that the work of science not only transcends politics but it is critical for creating a better world for us all.” President Dirks then highlighted the achievements of past Blavatnik Awards Laureates in Israel and also from the Blavatnik National, Regional, and UK Awards.

This year, all three Laureates were scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science. Each Laureate came to the stage to receive their Blavatnik Awards medal from President Nicholas Dirks and afterward, gave a ten-minute presentation on their award-winning discoveries to the audience. 

  • In the category of Chemical Sciences, Moran Shalev-Benami was recognized for her discovery of key sensing and signaling mechanisms in the human brain that can be directly translated into precision medicine. She highlighted several of her discoveries demonstrating how her study of signaling pathways on the molecular level shed new light on how the brain regulates appetite and how light could be used to modify brain activity.
  • For the Blavatnik Awards in Physical Sciences & Engineering, Thomas Vidick was recognized for his pioneering research in quantum complexity and cryptography that explores the capabilities of quantum devices. He explained how the rules of operation in these devices are governed by quantum mechanics. Quantum computers may perform certain computational tasks exponentially faster than classical computers and can enable new cryptographic protocols that leverage quantum mechanics to reach new levels of security in communication.
  • In the Life Sciences category, Schraga Schwartz, shared his groundbreaking work mapping and quantifying RNA modifications through the development of novel RNA analytical methods using a combination of computational, chemical, and molecular biological approaches. His breakthroughs in understanding RNA modifications hold promise for treating genetic diseases and expanding the role of RNA editing beyond vaccine development.

The Zooz ‘n Dance school gave an exciting performance reflecting mathematical patterns. Ceremony presenter Tamar Ish-Shalom closed the evening’s festivities with an annual tradition of the Blavatnik Awards in Israel of making a toast to science in Hebrew, “L’Chaim; To Science!” with Len Blavatnik, the Academies’ Presidents and the Blavatnik Awards Laureates.

The day prior, the 2024 Laureates presented their research at a public symposium, held at the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Jerusalem. The symposium was opened by Inaugural Blavatnik Awards Laureate in Life Sciences, Oded Rechavi from Tel Aviv University. Prof. Rechavi presented a guest lecture titled “Molecular Memories” on his research in epigenetics. Among the symposium participants were members of the public and STEM high school students from two regional high schools. You can read more about the June 3 Blavatnik Awards science symposium HERE.

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