Two US professors – one at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the other at the University of California, Berkeley – will receive the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology’s prestigious Harvey Prize at the end of this month in Haifa.

Biology Prof. Eric S. Lander of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT will receive his prize in the field of human health, in recognition of his significant contributions to the field of genomics, the judges’ panel stated on Thursday, noting that was the driving force behind most of the major advances in this field.

“He has made important contributions by both developing methods to exploit the power of genetic information and leading large endeavors to identify and annotate entire genomes,” the panel said.

“Most notably, he consolidated the efforts of the human genome project and first authored the resulting historic manuscript.”

Lander also pioneered the analysis of the genetic components underlying complex diseases, including cancer.

Prof. Eli Yablonovitch, of Berkeley’s electrical engineering and computer science department, will receive his award in the field of science and technology in recognition of “his pioneering discoveries in the fields of photonics, optoelectronics and semiconductors.”

According to the judges, “his groundbreaking studies are highly influential and broad in scope, combining deep physical insights with an applied technological approach. He established the field of photonic crystals and photonic band gap engineering, made fundamental and pioneering contributions to the research and development of photovoltaic cells, and the design and improved performance of semiconductor lasers.”

The Technion has been giving the Harvey Prize since 1972 from a fund established by the late Leo Harvey of Los Angeles. It aims to honor major contributors to the advancement of humanity in the fields of human health, science, technology and peace in the Middle East. Distinguished scientists and statesmen from around the world nominate outstanding candidates, and an elite Technion committee chooses the recipients. Each winner receives $75,000.

Previous recipients have included former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, for his work to reduce regional tensions; Prof. Edward Teller, for his work in solid-state physics; Prof. Bert Sakmann, the German cell physiologist who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Prof. Erwin Neher in 1991 for their work on the function of single ion channels in cells; and Dr. Willem Kolff, who invented the first artificial kidney and artificial heart machines.

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