Friday, 31 May 2013 13:53

Prize Immigrants: Early Career Foreign-Born Biomedical Researchers Compete for $35,000 Awards

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A foundation created by a Slovakian-born microbiologist who helped shape a monoclonal antibody into a clinically effective tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blocker will once again award three $35,000 no-strings cash prizes to young immigrant scientists who demonstrate "exceptional" records of early career achievement in the life sciences.

Uncle SamUncle Sam should welcome scientific
immigrants, says a New York foundation
in offering prizes to promising,
early career foreign-born
biomedical researchers.
The Vilcek Foundation of New York City is looking for three foreign-born but U.S. resident scientists who have a PhD/MD or similar degree, the equivalent of an assistant professorship or higher in a research institution, and be either naturalized citizens or green card holders. They can be no older than 38 on New Year's Day 2014. The winning scientists must also be wizards at the bench and the publications keyboard.

The "Creative Promise in Biomedical Science" prizes are the creation of Ján Vilček, a professor at the NYU School of Medicine and philanthropist who developed the drug infliximab which, marketed as Remicade, is used to treat a string of autoimmune disorders including Crohn's disease. With his art historian wife, Marcia, Vilček came to New York in 1965 as a Cold War refugee and was grateful for a faculty spot at NYU. (Twenty years later, the Vilceks made NYU a $100 million gift of thanks.) His research with his NYU colleague Junming Le on monoclonals as TNF-α blocking agents led to the lucrative licensing of infliximab. The Vilceks formed their foundation in 2000, making awards both in the arts and biomedical science, including the $100,000 Vilcek Prizes in Biomedical Science for lifetime achievement by senior scientists who are U.S. immigrants.

Unlike the Vilcek senior prizes, which rely on closed nominating juries, the "Creative Promise" awards are self-nominations. The 2014 prize deadline is August 14 with announcement of the winners in November. Full details at

John Fleischman

John is ASCB Senior Science Writer and the author among other things of two nonfiction books for older children, "Phineas Gage: A Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science" and "Black & White Airmen," both from Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt, Boston.

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