Meet the 2017 Creative Promise Prize Applicants

Meet the applicants for the 2017 Creative Promise Prizes! An astounding 465 fine artists and biomedical researchers responded to our annual call, breaking a record for the number of applications submitted. The applicants are as diverse as their chosen fields of work, ranging from mixed-media arts to neuroscience. All together, they emigrated from 84 different countries; China, India, Iran, South Korea, and Mexico were among the countries with the highest number of applicants. Several first-time countries joined the growing list of birthplaces, including applicants from the Bahamas, Barbados, Botswana, Denmark, Eritrea, Honduras, Kyrgyzstan, and Tunisia.

There are many noteworthy statistics from this group of candidates. The following charts demonstrate the diversity of applicants in biomedical science (green) and fine arts (violet).



Our largest pool of applicants to date were predominantly fine artists. A total of 310 artists applied in fine arts, while 155 researchers applied in biomedical science.



The Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise encourage and support the careers of young immigrants. To that end, applicants for the 2017 prizes were required to be 38 years of age or younger as of December 31, 2016.

The majority of scientists who applied were between 35 and 37, which is quite common for Creative Promise Prize applicants. Scientists are required to have earned a doctoral degree and to hold a full-time position at an academic institution. Artists must also be 38 years of age or younger, and creative individuals as young as 19 answered the call for applications.



As a whole, 56% of Creative Promise Prize applicants identify as female, 43% identify as male, and less than 1% identify as a non-binary gender. Biomedical science applicants were more likely to be male (92) than female (63), while the majority of fine arts applicants were female (198) compared with male (110); two applicants in the fine arts identified as a non-binary gender.



Biomedical researchers represent a wide spectrum of scientific fields. The majority of applicants are working in cancer research (14%), neuroscience (13.5%), bioengineering (11.6%), and human disease (11.6%).



The overwhelming majority of fine arts practices indicated by applicants were mixed media (27%), painting (25%), sculpture (11%), and installation (8.7%).

Applicants for the Creative Promise Prizes are truly inspirational. Their immigration stories are often as remarkable as their significant and creative work. Recipients of the prize will be notified in November of this year. Stay tuned in early 2017 when the winners of the Vilcek Prizes in Biomedical Science and Fine Arts are announced!

  • A Message from Jan and Marica Vilcek

    Our founders arrived as penniless refugees over fifty years ago, but with the kindness and opportunity they received in the United States, they went on to accomplish great things in biomedical science and art history. Read their statement on the recent executive order imposing a travel ban.