The international Dan David Foundation announced the names of its 2012 laureates
for prizes in outstanding achievement on Wednesday.
The foundation will
award the $1 million Dan David Prizes during a ceremony at Tel Aviv University
on June 10.
The winners in the biography/ history section include
Stanford University Prof. Robert Conquest, a British historian who is an
expert in Soviet history, and University of Oxford Prof. Martin Gilbert, an
expert in Jewish history. William Kentridge of South Africa won for his
artwork. In addition, biologists David Botstein, J. Craig Venter and Eric
Lander won for their genome research.
The Tel Aviv University-based
foundation hands out the awards each year in three different time frames – past,
present, and future. The laureates split the winnings in each category and
donate 10 percent of their prize towards 20 doctoral and postdoctoral
The Dan David Foundation said that Conquest won for his
work on Soviet policy of the 1930s that “exposed the horrors of the famine that
resulted from the policy of collectivization.”
Gilbert received the prize
for his six-volume biography of Sir Winston Churchill, which was “one of the
most remarkable feats of biography to be published in modern times,” according
to the foundation.
The institution praised Kentridge for showing “the
power of art to make a difference,” as well as his “extremely diversified body
In the genome research category, the foundation referred to
Botstein as “an intellectual leader of genomics since its inception,” while it
noted Venter’s “groundbreaking contributions to genomics.” It also praised
Lander for being “a major intellectual force in genomics research” and for
“placing genomics on a firm qualitative foundation.”
Last year, the Dan
David Prize recognized four leaders in the fields of human ageing, cinema and
society, and evolution.
Among the winners were American filmmakers Joel
and Ethan Coen, known for No Country for Old Men and The Big Lebowski, among
others. The Coen brothers won for their “capacity to bring narrative complexity
to apparently simple plots,” according to the foundation.