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Vilcek Foundation names recipients of 2011 Vilcek Prizes in Biomedical Science

New York, NY, February 22, 2011 - The Vilcek Foundation is pleased to announce the 2011 winners of its annual prizes honoring the contributions of foreign-born scientists and artists.

The sixth annual Vilcek Prize for Biomedical Science, given in recognition of a sustained record of innovation and achievement, is awarded to Dutch-born Titia de Lange, PhD, the Leon Hess Professor and head of the laboratory of Cell Biology and Genetics at Rockefeller University, for her body of research on mechanisms that help maintain genome stability. She and her colleagues study telomeres, the elements that protect chromosome ends from unnecessary repair and mediate their replication. This work has led to a greater understanding of how telomeres protect chromosome ends, and what happens when telomere function is lost during the early stages of tumorigenesis. The Vilcek Prize for Biomedical Science includes a $100,000 cash award and a trophy created by noted designer Stefan Sagmeister.

The Vilcek Prizes embody the Foundation's mission to publicize and celebrate the accomplishments of foreign-born artists and scientists. "Every year, the Vilcek Prizes bring to light the many ways that immigrants contribute to American society," said Jan T. Vilcek, President of the Foundation. "These contributions are instrumental in maintaining the leadership position of the United States in scientific research and the arts."

The Vilcek Prize adds to Dr. de Lange's already impressive roster of awards and distinctions, which includes the 2010 Clowes Memorial Award from the American Association for Cancer Research, the 2008 Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center Prize, the 2005 NIH Director's Pioneer Award, and the 2001 Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research. Dr. de Lange is also an American Cancer Society Research Professor, and serves as Associate Director of the university's Anderson Center for Cancer Research. She is an elected member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences, the European Molecular Biology Organization, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The Vilcek Foundation is also proud to present Yibin Kang, PhD, with its 2011 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science. Currently an Associate Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University, Dr. Kang's research greatly contributes to the general understanding of the molecular basis of cancer metastasis. His work focuses on the identification of genes and pathways that control metastasis, and their role in the propensity of cancer cells to metastasize to different organs. The Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science, which is accompanied by a $25,000 cash award, recognizes the accomplishments of foreign-born scientists, not more than 38 years old, who are in the early stages of their professional careers.

Dr. de Lange and Dr. Kang were chosen after months of deliberation by juries composed of eminent scientists from the New York University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Salk Institute, the Rockefeller University, and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

The juries also selected four finalists for the Creative Promise Prize in Biomedical Science:

  • Irish-born Katherine Fitzgerald, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School;
  • Russian-born Ekaterina Heldwein, PhD, Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology and Microbiology at Tufts University School of Medicine;
  • Israeli-born Galit Lahav, PhD, Associate Professor in Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School; and
  • Argentinean-born Elina Zuniga, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of California San Diego.

Each finalist will receive a cash award of $5,000.

The prizewinners and finalists will be honored at the Vilcek Foundation's annual awards presentation dinner in New York City this April. Maria Freire, President of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, will present the 2011 Vilcek Prizes for Biomedical Science.


Contact: Joyce Li
Vilcek Foundation

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