Two leading American cancer researchers, a world-famous cellist and four courageous journalists will share $1 million in each of three time-dimension categories of the 2006 Dan David Prize, at a ceremony to be held Sunday night at Tel Aviv University in the presence of President Moshe Katsav.
The Dan David Prize, established five years ago, is a joint international enterprise endowed by the Dan David Foundation and headquartered at TAU.
Over three days, the winners will also participate in TAU symposia on novel strategies in cancer therapy, freedom of speech, and "The Silk Road, Then and Now: History, Culture and Music."
The prize is unique in its flexible definition of dynamically changing fields of human knowledge within the three time dimensions of past, present and future and in its process of fostering the next generation of scholars. In a ceremony on Monday, the laureates will donate 20 scholarships paid for by part of their prize money to outstanding young researchers from around the world.
Yo-Yo Ma, the world renowned cellist and a native of Paris who lives in the US, will receive the Dan David Prize for the Past Time Dimension in the field of Preserving Cultural Heritage.
He is cited for his work as founder (in 1998) and artistic director of the Silk Road Project, which has brought back to life the music, ideas, arts and culture found in the nations along the Silk Road trade route. The project has opened up the study of the ebb and flow of ideas and traditions among different cultures along the Silk Road, the routes that crisscrossed Eurasia - from China to the Mediterranean - from the first millennium BCE through the middle of the second millennium CE.
Four journalists noted for their pursuit of democracy and human rights in troubled regions of the world share the 2006 prize for the Present Time Dimension in the field of Journalists of the Print Media. They are Magdi Allam of Italy, deputy editor of Corriere della Sera, Arab and Islamic affairs commentator Monica Gonzalez of Chile, a leading investigative reporter Adam Michnik of Poland and Goenawan Mohamad of Indonesia, a poet, writer, journalist and free press activist.
Allam, born in Egypt and one of the leading journalists in Italy today, is an author as well as a prolific journalist and editor. He has consistently spoken out against extremism and in favor of tolerance.
Allam is one of the leaders in the fight for coexistence between cultures, asserting, 'a positive dialogue with moderate Islam is both possible and necessary.'
Gonzalez has been fighting for human rights and democracy in Chile and all of South America for more than 30 years. She is being awarded the prize for her persistent struggle for human rights and democracy and for her consistent achievements in investigative reporting, book writing and, more recently, publishing.
Michnik is cited for being the journalist most associated with the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the rise of freedom in Eastern Europe. He is a significant political activist, author, intellectual and editor.
Mohamad will receive the prize for having spent the last 30 years as a poet, writer and journalist fighting for press freedom and the advancement of independent journalism. He continues to write columns, poetry, experimental theater and prose and has received a number of awards for his persistent courage and vision.
Two leading American researchers, Dr. John Mendelsohn, president of the University of Texas's MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Prof. Joseph Schlessinger, chairman of pharmacology at the Yale School of Medicine, share the prize for the Future Time Dimension in the field of "Cancer Therapy" for their seminal research leading to innovative modalities of cancer treatment.
Mendelsohn has pioneered the rapidly developing field of antibody-mediated cancer therapy in general and that of antibodies to growth factors in particular. He developed a specific monoclonal antibody called Erbitux, which blocks the activity of the receptor for epidermal growth factor and two years ago was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for treatment of advanced colorectal cancer.
Schlessinger was praised for his critical role in deciphering a new code for the flow of information from the cell surface into the cell. He provided the conceptual foundation for the rational and sophisticated development of a new family of cancer drugs including Sutent, developed by his team for the treatment of gastrointestinal and kidney tumors.