2013 Dan David Prize Awarded at TAU

Three $1 million prizes were bestowed upon extraordinary individuals whose achievements have had an outstanding scientific, cultural or social impact on our world
16 June 2013
From left, front row: Member of the Dan David Prize Committee Ariel David; Mrs. Gabriela David; Prof. Esther Duflo; back row: Mr. Leon Wieseltier, Prof. Sir Michel Serres, Prof. Sir Geoffrey Lloyd and Prof. Alfred Sommer

The festive 2013 Dan David Prize award ceremony was held in TAU’s Miriam and Adolfo Smolarz Auditorium attended by senior University officials and faculty members, the President of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, diplomats, and friends and supporters of the University. This was the second year the ceremony was held since the passing of its founder and champion, TAU benefactor Dan David.


The Dan David Prize is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious monetary prizes, endowed by the Dan David Foundation and headquartered at TAU. Each year 10% of the prize money is donated by the laureates towards scholarships for outstanding doctoral and postdoctoral researchers in the relevant fields.   


Opening the ceremony, TAU President Joseph Klafter welcomed this year’s laureates: Sir Geoffrey Lloyd, ancient Greek scholar; ; Prof. Michael Serres and Mr. Leon Wieseltier, two great intellectuals who challenge conventional thinking; and Professors Esther Duflo and Alfred Sommer, whose work in preventive medicine is changing the course of millions of young lives.


A mentor forever

Prof. Klafter recalled how Dan David would never miss an opportunity to mention his early mentor and family member, Pierre Wahl, who gave him a substantial loan to start his first business.


“Dan never ceased to be moved by this act of help and trust and it seems to me that Dan’s involvement with Tel Aviv University through the Dan David Classroom Building, the Dan David Prize and the ‘Name Your Hero’ Youth Competition was shaped by this act of mentoring, this belief in potential,” he said. “I believe that the Dan David Prize recipients tonight, who themselves are mentors, teachers and thought leaders, can appreciate Dan’s vision and be proud of taking part in it.”


Ariel David, Member of the Dan David Prize Board and Dan’s son, commented that “the more time goes by, the more I see how well this project reminds me of my late father, Dan David, and how much it serves to commemorate him. Recognizing and encouraging excellence across disciplines and breaking traditional academic boundaries was at the center of my father’s worldview and the driving concept behind this prize.” “My father had enormous respect and admiration for those people, like our laureates, who dedicate their lives to the pursuit of knowledge and improving the world and our existence in it. By creating this prize he wanted not only to recognize the merits of these extraordinary people, but to present them as an example for younger generations and to encourage others to follow in their footsteps, cultivating curiosity and a thirst for knowledge.” 


2013 Recipients


Past Time Dimension: Classics, the Modern Legacy of the Ancient World


Prof. Sir Geoffrey Lloyd

Prof. Sir Geoffrey Lloyd is the greatest living scholar of the history of ancient science, having transformed the field over the last four decades. He is a Senior Scholar in Residence at the Needham Research Institute and at the University of Cambridge, UK.


“I am particularly interested in the circumstances in which our predecessors, whatever their color, creed or race, were able to produce radical innovations.”  


Present Time Dimension: Ideas, Public Intellectuals and Contemporary Philosophers


Prof. Sir Michel Serres

Through his explorations of the parallel developments of scientific, philosophical and literary trends, Prof. Michael Serres has built a reputation as one of modern France’s most gifted and original thinkers. He has been a professor of philosophy at Clermont-Ferrand, Vincennes, Paris, since 1969, and a professor of the history of science at Stanford University.


Mr. Leon Wieseltier

Noted American intellectual and philosopher and Literary Editor of The New Republic, Leon Wieseltier is a foremost writer and thinker who confronts and engages with the central issues of our times, setting the standard for serious cultural discussion. He has written books of great originality on nuclear war; on the prevalence of identity as a central category in contemporary moral and social thought; and on death in the Jewish tradition.


“The application of philosophy to politics is especially urgent in a democracy where the fate of society will be significantly determined by the intellectual quality of the opinions of its citizens.”  


Future Time Dimension: Preventive Medicine


Prof. Esther Duflo

A renowned French economist, Prof. Esther Duplo is a member of the Department of Economics at MIT and a founder and director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Lab. Her work related to alleviating poverty and the prevention of disease has the future potential to improve the lives of hundreds of millions of the planet’s poorest inhabitants.


Prof. Alfred Sommer

Prof. Alfred Sommer is a professor of epidemiology and international health at the Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. His research in Indonesia, Nepal and Africa has shown that vitamin A deficiency significantly increases childhood mortality. After proving the case in randomized field trials, he designed and championed a cost-effective oral supplement that is saving millions of children’s lives.


“Unlike clinical care which treats patients with existing conditions, preventive medicine can intervene today to ensure that individuals and indeed whole populations never become ill in the future.” 


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