BOG 2015: Dan David Prizes Awarded

Six exceptional individuals receive prestigious awards from the Dan David Foundation at Tel Aviv University
07 June 2015
Dan David Prize winners
From left: TAU Governor Ariel David; Prof. Michael S. Waterman; Jimmy Wales; Chairman of the Dan David Foundation Prof. Itamar Rabinovich; TAU President Joseph Klafter; Prof. David Haussler; TAU Governor Gabriela David; Prof. Alessandro Portelli; Prof. Peter R. Brown; and Dr. Cyrus Chothia. Photo: Israel Hadari

Knowledge – the free access to it and the unhindered dissemination of it – was in the spotlight at this year’s Dan David Prize ceremony, a highlight of the 2015 International Board of Governors Meeting. The Dan David Prize, endowed by the Dan David Foundation and administered by the University, is one of the most lucrative and prestigious in the academic world, recognizing individuals whose achievements have had an outstanding scientific, cultural or social impact on our world.


Mr. Ariel David, the son of the late Dan David and a board member of the Dan David Prize and Dan David Foundation, told an audience of prominent political, business, philanthropic and academic figures from around the world: “This prize was founded 14 years ago by my father, who stood in wonder of any technological advancement. Today it carries on his spirit and personality. I wish we could all retain his ability to look at everything with new eyes.”


TAU President Joseph Klafter lauded Dan David as an inventor, philanthropist and seeker of knowledge who was always fascinated by how the past informs the present, and the present heralds the future. “He was an intellectual explorers who relishes meeting and talking with other intellectual explorers. The prize that he created combines these two elements – the interconnectedness of time and pioneering exploration,” he said. 


New windows on the past

Each year, three $1 million prizes are awarded in three time dimensions – past, present and future. The prize for the past dimension, “Retrieving the Past: Historians and their Sources,” was awarded to two scholars who have spent their lives exploring the interaction between private and collective memory, reshaping the way social and cultural change is understood. The winners were Prof. (emer.) Peter R. Brown at the Princeton University Department of History, for his interdisciplinary exploration into late antiquity and Prof (emer.) Alessandro Portelli at Universita di Roma “La Sapienza,” whose work explores the winding pathways of oral histories for a fuller understanding of historical events.


From left: TAU President Joseph Klafter, Chairman of the Dan David Foundation Prof. Itamar Rabinovich and Dan David Prize laureates in the “Past” category, Prof. Alessandro Portelli and Prof. Peter R. Brown. Photo: Israel Hadari


The information revolution

The sole winner for the “Present” on “The Information Revolution,” was Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia. Wales was recognized for exploring and stretching the boundaries of collaboration in the digital age, but for also giving every person in the world the opportunity to become explorers of knowledge. Speaking at the ceremony, Wales said, “Wikipedia is not one web site but a broad movement to offer every person free access to the sum of all human knowledge, and access to knowledge is a fundamental human right.”


TAU Vice Rector Dina Prialnik and Gabriela David present Wikipedia Co-founder Jimmy Wales with the Dan David Prize in the “Present” category. Photo: Israel Hadari


The information of the future

The prize in the “Future” dimension, in bioinformatics, was co-shared by three remarkable explorers at the interface of biology and science: Prof. Michael S. Waterman of the University of Southern California, whose algorithms paved the way for a whole generation of explorers of the human genome; Dr. Cyrus Clothia of the MRL Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge University, a father of structural bioinformatics; and Prof. David Haussler of the University of California at Santa Cruz, who pioneered technologies in the field.


From left: Dan David Prize laureates in the “Future” category, Prof. David Haussler, Dr. Cyrus Chothia and Prof. Michael S. Waterman. Photo: Israel Hadari


The ceremony featured several colorful performances by the Mayumana Group, gifted percussion artists from around the world. 



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