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Announcing Laureates of the 2016 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists

Meet the scientists who have been named the winners of this year's 2016 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists

Published June 25, 2016

Announcing Laureates of the 2016 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists

Three young scientists are being recognized for discovering novel ways to fight the most challenging human diseases and explore the depths of space with this week's announcement announcement of the winners of the New York Academy of Sciences, honor the nation's most exceptional young scientists and engineers, celebrating their extraordinary achievements and recognizing their outstanding promise.  Each of the three National Laureates receives $250,000-the largest unrestricted cash award given to early-career scientists. This year's Blavatnik National Laureates are:

  • David Charbonneau, Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University: Dr. Charbonneau is honored for his numerous pioneering discoveries of exoplanets and for the development of novel observational methods that astronomers use to search for chemical fingerprints of life in space. Dr. Charbonneau's recent results include a landmark discovery of an Earth-like planet orbiting a very nearby star, dubbed "arguably the most important planet ever found outside the solar system," and the best-possible target for future exploration with the world's most powerful observatories.
  • Phil Baran, Professor of Chemistry, The Scripps Research Institute: Dr. Baran is honored for his transformative research in the field of natural product synthesis and his development of new synthetic methodology that enables chemists to design scalable, efficient, economically-viable synthetic routes to potential new drugs. One of the recent successes in the Baran laboratory is the synthesis of the plant-derived ingenol, derivatives of which have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat skin cancer.
  • Michael Rape, Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California, Berkeley: Dr. Rape is honored for his fundamental discoveries related to ubiquitylation - a process of cellular signaling dependent on the protein ubiquitin - which has emerged as a complex cellular language essential for information transfer and communication in nearly all organisms. By deciphering the ubiquitin code, Dr, Rape's basic science work has opened the door to new and unique ways to manipulate ubiquitylation for next-generation therapies in oncology, immunology, and inflammation.

The three National Laureates were selected from a pool of nominations submitted by 148 of the nation's leading universities and research institutions.  Each institution was invited to nominate one physical scientist or engineer, one chemist, and one life scientist.  The names of highly qualified nominees were also submitted by members of the Blavatnik Awards Scientific Advisory Council.

Starting with a pool of 308 nominations of exceptional faculty-rank researchers, the awards jury, composed of some of the world's most eminent scientists and engineers, conducted a rigorous review.  The judges first narrowed down the selection to 31 National Finalists, and then to three National Laureates.

"The science community is defined by innovators and pioneers, and this year's National Laureates are leading the way in their fields," said Dr. Brooke Grindlinger, Chief Scientific Officer, Scientific Programs & Blavatnik Awards, The New York Academy of Sciences. "The Academy is honored to collaborate with the Blavatnik Family Foundation to recognize these scientists. We congratulate the Laureates and National Finalists on their achievement."

The three Laureates and 28 National Finalists will be honored at an annual awards ceremony on Monday, September 12, 2016, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

For more information on the winners, please click here.