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Winners of the 2018 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists Announced

Three National Laureates—including a microbiologist from the Salk Institute, a nanoscientist from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and a chemical biologist from the University of California, San Diego—will each receive $250,000

Published July 12, 2018

Winners of the 2018 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists Announced

Three talented young scientists were named 2018 Laureates of the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists for their outstanding achievements and future promise in their respective scientific disciplines.  Each Laureate will receive $250,000, the largest unrestricted scientific prize offered to faculty-level scientific researchers 42 years of age and younger in the United States. The Laureates are:

  • Chemistry: Neal K. Devaraj, PhD, of the University of California, San Diego, recognized for his transformative work on the synthesis of artificial cells and membranes, creating an exciting new field of research that aims to address one of the great challenges in synthetic biology. Dr. Devaraj has made several game-changing discoveries including the development of new methods for labeling biological molecules, which have already been adopted by researchers globally.


  • Life Sciences: Janelle Ayres, PhD, of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, recognized for her pioneering research in immunology and the study of the how bacteria interact with humans. Dr. Ayres’s work is revolutionizing our understanding of host-pathogen interactions and has the potential to solve one of the greatest current public health threats: anti-microbial resistance.


  • Physical Sciences & Engineering: Sergei V. Kalinin, PhD, of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, recognized for creating novel techniques to study, measure, and control the functionality of nanomaterials at the atomic and nanoscale. Dr. Kalinin’s work at the nanoscale has the potential to enable scientists to create new classes of materials by manipulating and assembling matter atom-by-atom.


Nominated by 146 research institutions across 42 states, the 286 nominees were narrowed to a pool of 31 Blavatnik National Finalists. From this pool of Finalists, a distinguished scientific jury chose these three outstanding Laureates, one in each of the Awards’ scientific disciplinary categories—Life Sciences, Physical Sciences & Engineering, and Chemistry.

Ellis Rubinstein, President and CEO of the Academy and Chair of the Awards’ Scientific Advisory Council commented on the caliber of this year’s candidates: “These National Laureates have forged new paths that will vastly enhance their research disciplines. We are extremely excited to highlight these science superstars in this year’s Blavatnik National Awards and to see where their innovations and future discoveries take us in the years ahead.”

Since 2007, the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists have been recognizing researchers under the age of 42 in the New York area, across the United States, and now internationally in Israel and the United Kingdom. By the close of 2018, the Blavatnik Awards will have conferred prizes totaling more than US$6.7 million, honoring 249 outstanding young scientists and engineers.

The 2018 Blavatnik National Laureates, along with the 2018 Blavatnik National Finalists, will be honored at the Blavatnik National Awards ceremony on Monday, September 24, 2018, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

To learn more about this year’s Blavatnik Laureates and other honorees, please visit the Blavatnik website here and follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @BlavatnikAwards