Dan David Foundation announces winners of prize

Annual prizes honor research of the mind in past, present and future categories.

Dan David Prize (photo credit: Courtesy)
Dan David Prize
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Writer and social activist Krzysztof Czyzewski, historian Pierre Nora, Holocaust scholar Prof. Saul Friedlander, molecular geneticist Prof. John A. Hardy, clinical neuroscience Prof. Peter St. George-Hyslop, cognitive neuropsychologist Brenda Milner and electrical engineering and computer science Prof. Marvin Minsky are the winners of the 2014 Dan David Prizes, it was announced on Tuesday.
The international Dan David prize, headquartered in Tel Aviv University, awards three prizes of $1 million for outstanding scientific, technological, cultural or social achievements.
Each year, the Dan David Foundation awards the prize within the context of past, present and future time dimensions.
This year’s categories are, for the past: “History and Memory.”
For the present: “Combating Memory Loss.” And for the future: “Artificial Intelligence, The Digital Mind.”
In the past category, Czyzewski, Nora and Friedlander will share the award.
Czyzewski, a writer, public intellectual and social activist has dedicated his work to the integration of the Polish past into the creation of a robust civil society in the present, capable of recognizing and including the complications of the past into the country’s present and future foundations.
Nora, a historian, public intellectual and publisher invented the new historiographical interpretive category “Les Lieux de Mémoire” (“Sites of Memory.”) This new category represents a concept that lies at the focus of discussions about the intricate connections and oppositions between history, the public use of the past and the “centrality memory” in today’s media-saturated environment.
Friedlander is a Holocaust scholar, who has maintained a debate over the proper periodization of Nazi history. In addition, he has questioned the extent to which the Holocaust and the history of the Third Reich should be considered exceptional, addressing ways to integrate the victims’ experience within the overall chronicle of the Holocaust.
In the present category, Hardy, St. George-Hyslop and Milner will share the award.
Hardy, a molecular geneticist at University College, London, England, specializes in studying the genetics of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. He was the first to discover a mutation in the gene coding for the amyloid protein, which plays a key role in the neuro-degeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
St. George-Hyslop, a professor at the department of clinical neurosciences, University of Cambridge, England, was the first to discover key mutations in proteins involved in the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
These proteins are also implicated in late onset of the disease.
Milner, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at the Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, has demonstrated that there are different types of learning and memory, dependent on a separate system of the brain. Her pioneering work has now paved the way for modern learning and memory research.
Minsky, who won the award in the future category, is a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He is one of the founders of the field of artificial intelligence and has been among the most influential intellectuals of the twentieth century in a variety of disciplines, including AI, robotics, computation, learning, cognition, philosophy and optics.
The Dan David prize is named after the late international businessman and philanthropist Dan David.