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Legendary Hollywood directors and renowned researchers awarded 2011 Dan David Prizes

An audience of prominent philanthropists, statesmen, academics, and business figures from around the world graced the Tel Aviv University campus on Sunday, May 15, for this year's prestigious Dan David Prize award ceremony. Among them were President Shimon Peres of Israel; Italian president Giorgio Napolitano, who won the Dan David Prize for his dedication to parliamentary democracy last year; Prof. Joseph Klafter, President of Tel Aviv University and Chairman of the Board of the Dan David Prize; and Dan David, international businessman and founder of the achievement prizes.

The 2011 awards were presented to:

  • Joel and Ethan Coen, for their achievements in the field of cinema and society. The Coen brothers 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 body of work includes Blood Simple, The Big Lebowski, Fargo, No Country for Old Men, and Barton Fink.

  • Prof. Marcus Feldman of Stanford University, for his work in the field of animal and plant evolution. Prof. Feldman 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, not only exploring basic scientific topics, but also investigating the societal consequences of the conclusions he draws in terms of models of evolution.

  • Prof. Cynthia Kenyon of the University of California, San Francisco, and Prof. Gary Ruvkun of the Harvard Medical School, for their work in human longevity. Prof. Kenyon is a visionary whose work has established that aging is genetically regulated. Prof. Ruvkun discovered that a hormone similar to human insulin is key to longevity. Kenyon and Ruvkun's pioneering work suggests 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.

The ceremony included performances by the Sally-Anne Friedland Dance Drama Company, in a dance exploring past, present and future; The Chamber Choir of Tel Aviv University's Buchmann-Mehta School of Music, which performed Miserere by Gregorio Allegri conducted by Ronen Borshevsky; and the GILA Dance Troupe, featuring 15 women in a performance about facing life's everyday challenges.

Throughout the weekend preceding the ceremony, the laureates presented a series of symposia on the Tel Aviv University campus regarding their work: Accept the Mystery with the Coen Brothers, featuring a roundtable discussion with the filmmakers and Dr. Orly Lubin, Chair of the Literature Department at Tel Aviv University and Israeli film and stage actress Dana Ivgy; New Frontiers in Evolution with Prof. Feldman; and On Genes and Aging with Prof. Kenyon and Prof. Ruvkun.

The Dan David Prize has been awarded since the year 2002 to individuals or institutions with proven, exceptional and distinct excellence in the sciences, arts, and humanities, who have made an outstanding contribution to humanity. One million dollars is awarded in each of the Prize's three dimensions of past, present, and future.

The Dan David Prize is a joint international enterprise endowed by the Dan David Foundation and headquartered at Tel Aviv University. Each year the International Board for the prize chooses one field within each time dimension. Following a review process by independent Review Committees comprised of renowned scholars and professionals, the International Board then chooses the laureates for each field.

Laureates donate 10% of their prize money towards 20 TAU scholarships for outstanding doctoral and post-doctoral students from all over the world.


Contact: George Hunka
American Friends of Tel Aviv University

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Legendary Hollywood directors and renowned researchers awarded 2011 Dan David Prizes
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