Blavatnik Family Foundation and New York Academy of Sciences Announce Winners of 2018 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists

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Three Blavatnik 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.

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These three outstanding Laureates—all pioneers in their scientific fields—are paving the way for new discoveries that will improve lives and society for the better.

The Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences today announced the 2018 Laureates of the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists, who will each receive $250,000: the largest unrestricted scientific prize offered to America’s most promising faculty-level scientific researchers 42 years of age and younger. 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 three outstanding Laureates, one in each of the Awards’ scientific disciplinary categories—Life Sciences, Physical Sciences & Engineering, and Chemistry.

  • Life Sciences: Janelle Ayres, PhD, of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, 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, for creating novel techniques to study, measure, and control the functionality of nanomaterials at the atomic and nanoscale. Dr. Kalinin’s work manipulating individual atoms has the potential to enable scientists to create new classes of materials by assembling matter atom-by-atom.
  • Chemistry: Neal K. Devaraj, PhD, of the University of California, San Diego, 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.

In recognition of the outstanding achievements of the 2018 National Laureates, Len Blavatnik, Founder and Chairman of Access Industries, head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation, and member of the President’s Council of the New York Academy of Sciences stated: “These three outstanding Laureates—all pioneers in their scientific fields—are paving the way for new discoveries that will improve lives and society for the better.”

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 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 $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.

About the Blavatnik Family Foundation
The Blavatnik Family Foundation is an active supporter of many leading educational, scientific, cultural, and charitable institutions in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, and throughout the world. Recipients of Foundation support include University of Oxford, Harvard University, Yale University, Tel Aviv University, Stanford University, New York University, the New York Academy of Sciences, Tate, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Carnegie Hall, the Royal Opera House, the Hermitage Museum, the Israel Museum, Lincoln Center, Jewish charitable organizations, and countless other philanthropic institutions. The Foundation is headed by Len Blavatnik, a major American and British entrepreneur and philanthropist. Len Blavatnik is the Founder and Chairman of Access Industries, a privately held U.S. industrial group with global strategic interests in natural resources and chemicals, media and telecommunications, venture capital, and real estate. For more detailed information, please visit:

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 driving innovative solutions to society’s challenges by advancing scientific research, education, and policy. Throughout its history, the Academy's Membership has featured thinkers and innovators from all walks of life, including U.S. Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, Thomas Edison, Lord Kelvin, Charles Darwin, Margaret Mead, Louis Pasteur, and over 130 Nobel Laureates. Today, the Academy numbers over 20,000 Members in 100+ countries, with a President's Council that includes 36 Nobel Laureates and a distinguished Board of Governors comprised of leaders from business, academia, and philanthropy. It is also young and dynamic with nearly 10,000 post-doctoral, post-graduate, undergraduate, and gifted high school student Members. Through collective action, the Academy is partnering with the United Nations to address their Sustainable Development Goals, advising national leaders and organizing public-private partnerships to address the grand challenges of the planet.

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