The Vilcek Foundation Celebrates the 2014 Vilcek Prizewinners

On Wednesday, April 2, the Vilcek Foundation hosted the winners of the 2014 Vilcek Prizes, members of the design and biomedical science communities, and other friends of the foundation at the 9th annual awards gala at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

The prizes were established to honor immigrants whose careers have had a significant impact on the American arts and sciences.  Amongst the guests were several past Vilcek Prizewinners, many of whom traveled far distances to attend the ceremony.  Of note was Osvaldo Golijov, winner of the 2008 Vilcek Prize for Music, who came to cheer on Neri Oxman, winner of this year’s arts prize, and – coincidentally – his wife.   

Ross Tibbles and Shelley Fox

Georgiana Pickett, Vernon Scott, and Claudia Dreifus

Some of the guests joining in the festivities for the first time this year were Shelley Fox, Donna Karan professor of fashion at Parsons the New School for Design; Ingrid Abramovitch, senior editor/writer at Elle Décor; Geri Mannion, director of the US Democracy Program and the Special Opportunities Fund at the Carnegie Corporation; and Monica Tavares, acting commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. On the science side, we were pleased to welcome Claudia Dreifus, adjunct professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University and science columnist at the New York Times; Marc Tessier-Lavigne, president of the Rockefeller University; Craig Thompson, president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; Richard Axel, professor at Columbia University; Cornelia Bargmann, Torsten N. Weisel professor at Rockefeller University, and Richard Tsien, Druckenmiller professor of neuroscience at New York University.   

After a cocktail reception and seated dinner, the prizewinners were introduced by Huda Zoghbi, professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor College, and Paola Antonelli, senior curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art.  Both speakers were especially familiar with the work of the prizewinners, having also served on this year’s selection panels. 

In his acceptance remarks, Thomas Jessell, winner of the Vilcek Prize for Biomedical Science, quoted immigrant artist Arshile Gorky: “We are part of the world creation, and we ourselves create nothing. Our knowledge allows us to make use of all the forces already in existence, our art to interpret emotions already felt.” It was a fitting sentiment that summed up both the extraordinary collection of creative individuals in the room, and the warm enthusiasm shown for our prizewinners. 

  • 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.