And the winners are…

The Vilcek Foundation is pleased to present the winners of the 2019 Vilcek Foundation Prizes. Awarded to immigrants whose work is of significant consequence to both their individual fields and to American society at large, the prizes were created to spotlight the critical importance of foreign-born innovation to national advancement.

The Creative Promise and Vilcek Prizes are awarded in biomedical science and culinary arts, recognizing achievements across a broad swath of disciplines. In addition, we are introducing the Vilcek Prize for Excellence, awarded to immigrants who have meaningfully influenced American society and world culture, or to individuals who have had a material impact on immigrant rights. The inaugural Vilcek Prize for Excellence recognizes accomplishments in art history and museum work.

The prizewinners this year have made revolutionary discoveries and contributions, from identifying the role of full-scale drawings in the creation of Renaissance masterpieces, to identifying physical forces fundamental to biomolecular structures such as proteins. 

We will be unveiling video documentaries and feature articles on the prizewinners each week—sign up for our mailing list and be sure to check back often!


Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science

Angelika Amon

Kathleen and Curtis Marble Professor of Cancer Research and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Born in Austria

For groundbreaking research on the molecular signals that regulate cell growth and division, and how errors in these processes contribute to birth defects and cancer.


Vilcek Prize in Culinary Arts

Marcus Samuelsson

Chef, Author, Restaurateur, and Co-owner, Red Rooster Harlem

Born in Ethiopia

For culinary excellence and artistry, as well as creative, impactful engagement with a wide range of social issues through culinary arts.


Vilcek Prize for Excellence

Carmen C. Bambach

Curator of Italian and Spanish Drawings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Born in Chile

For revelatory contributions to the study of Renaissance drawings, and for curating landmark exhibitions that made masterpieces available to new audiences.


Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science

Amit Choudhary

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Member of the Renal Division faculty, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Associate Member, Broad Institute

Born in India

For the identification of a fundamental force integral to the structures of biomolecules like proteins and DNA, and for improvements upon the genome-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9.

Jeanne T. Paz

Assistant Investigator, Gladstone Institutes

Assistant Professor, University of California San Francisco

Born in Georgia (then Soviet Union)

For uncovering the neural basis of epileptic seizures, and for demonstrating possible methods of predicting and arresting seizures.

Mikhail G. Shapiro

Professor of Chemical Engineering and Heritage Principal Investigator, California Institute of Technology

Born in Russia (then Soviet Union)

For developing tools based on sound waves and magnetic fields, allowing for an unprecedented range of high-resolution, noninvasive imaging and control of cells in living organisms.


Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise in Culinary Arts

Tejal Rao

California Restaurant Critic, New York Times

Columnist, The New York Times Magazine

Born in UK to parents from Kenya and India

For food writing that tells stories about politics, culture, and science, centering on people whose work often goes unseen.

Fabián von Hauske Valtierra

Co-chef and Co-owner, Contra, Wildair, Una Pizza Napoletana

Born in Mexico

For combining diverse, international culinary influences into a singular voice that is ambitious, experimental, and accessible.

Nite Yun

Chef and Owner, Nyum Bai

Born in Thailand to parents from Cambodia

For recovering Cambodian culinary traditions and introducing American audiences to Cambodian culture through its cuisine.


  • Ralston Crawford: Torn Signs

    Our new exhibition, Ralston Crawford: Torn Signs, features paintings, drawings, and photography by a master of American Modernism that are rarely exhibited to the public.


    Free with advance registration!


    RSVP here >