Introducing the winners of the 2014 Vilcek Prizes

The Vilcek Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 Vilcek Prizes!  The prizes are awarded annually to immigrants in biomedical science and the arts and humanities, this year recognizing the field of design.  The Vilcek Prizes honor immigrants with a record of groundbreaking contributions to their field.  The Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise are awarded to younger immigrants who have demonstrated exceptional achievement. 

Photo credit: Noah Kalina

The Vilcek Prize for Design is awarded to Israeli-born Neri Oxman, Sony Corporation Career Development Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT, for her creation of digital fabricated materials inspired by nature. 

Photo credit: Jill Levine

The Vilcek Prize for Biomedical Science is awarded to British-born Thomas Jessell, Claire Tow Professor in the Departments of Neuroscience and Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics at Columbia University, for his pioneering work in the assembly and organization of neural circuits and the complex organization of the human spinal cord.


The Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise in Design are awarded to:

Iranian-born Yasaman Hashemian, Scholar Visitor at USC’s Interactive Media Division, for computer games designed to promote wellness and to improve children’s health.

Photo credit: Andreas Nilsson

Togolese-born Mansour Ourasanah, Senior Designer at Whirlpool Corporation, for product designs that address large-scale social problems while retaining style and practicability.

Colombian-born Quilian Riano, founder of DSGN AGNC, for blending community activism, architecture, and design through urban and social planning.


The Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science are awarded to:


Photo credit: Marietta Schupp, EMBL

Spanish-born Antonio Giraldez, Associate Professor in Genetics at Yale University School of Medicine, for his research on the role of microRNAs in regulating gene expression in vertebrates.

Greek-born Stavros Lomvardas, Associate Professor in the Department of Anatomy, UCSF, for investigations into the molecular mechanisms behind the expression of mammalian olfactory receptors.

Photo credit: Chiun-Kai Shih

Iranian-born Pardis Sabeti, Associate Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, for use of computational genetics for the development of algorithms that detect signatures of natural selection. 

The prizewinners will be receiving their awards at a gala in their honor in April.  Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks for profiles on each winner, and visit our Prizes section for more information about them, their work, and the Vilcek Prizes!

  • 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.