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Filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen among 2011 Dan David Prize winners

Award-winning filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen, evolution expert Prof. Marcus Feldman, and aging specialists Prof. Cynthia Kenyon and Prof. Gary Ruvkun are among the winners of the 2011 Dan David Prize, which annually awards three prizes of $1 million each. The prizes are granted for "proven, exceptional and distinct excellence in the sciences, arts and humanities that have made an outstanding contribution to humanity."

The laureates, who donate 10% of their prize money towards 20 doctoral and postdoctoral Tel Aviv University scholarships, will be honored at a ceremony at the university on May 15, 2011, in the presence of Shimon Peres, President of the State of Israel, and Giorgio Napolitano, President of the Republic of Italy and a winner of the 2010 prize. The Coen brothers and the other recipients are expected to attend.

The Dan David Prize is named after international businessman and philanthropist Dan David. Its international headquarters are located at Tel Aviv University. Each year the International Board chooses one field within the three time dimensions of Past (highlighting fields that expand knowledge of former times), Present (recognizing achievements that shape and enrich contemporary society) and Future (focusing on breakthroughs that hold great promise for the improvement of our world). Following a review process by independent Review Committees comprised of renowned scholars and professionals, the International Board then chooses the laureates for each field.

The 2011 Dan David Prize laureates are:

Past in the field of "Evolution": Prof. Marcus Feldman of Stanford University has produced conceptual results of broad interest in the domain of animal and plant evolution. His work has led to highly focused insights of cultural significance in different civilizations. His work not only explores basic scientific topics, but also investigates the societal consequences of the conclusions he draws in terms of models of evolution.

Present in the field of "Cinema and Society": Joel and Ethan Coen make a creative partnership unique in the history of filmmaking. Their control over final cut of their films, their grasp of film genres, black comedy, and their capacity to bring narrative complexity to apparently simple plots have become hallmarks of their films. Their impressive list of films includes Blood Simple, The Big Lebowski, Fargo, No Country for Old Men, Barton Fink, and most recently True Grit.

Future in the field of "Ageing Facing the Challenge": Prof. Cynthia Kenyon of the University of California at San Francisco and Prof. Gary Ruvkun of the Harvard Medical School. Prof. Kenyon is a visionary whose work has established that ageing is genetically regulated. Prof. Ruvkun discovered that a hormone similar to human insulin is key in longevity. From their pioneering work, there is good reason to think that life-span could be extended in man, and that the onset of diseases of old age could be delayed genetically or with drugs.

In conjunction with the Unit for Science Oriented Youth at Tel Aviv University, the Dan David Prize has also initiated the "Name Your Hero" Essay Competition for High School Youth throughout Israel. High school students are encouraged to make a difference and present their choice of candidate and/or suggestions for fields to the mutual benefit of the Dan David Prize and the students. The fields selected for a given year are influenced by the students' input; the students' scholarship and creative writing skills are advanced.


Contact: George Hunka
American Friends of Tel Aviv University

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Filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen among 2011 Dan David Prize winners
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