Three young researchers at Israeli universities are each to receive a prize of $100,000 for their groundbreaking work. The recipient of the prize for life sciences is Prof. Shai Carmi of the Hebrew University, one of the world’s leading scientists in the field of population genetics.
At March 27, 2023 the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the Blavatnik Family Foundation announced the three winners of the 2023 Blavatnik Prize for Young Scientists in Israel. These $100,000 prizes are awarded each year to promising young scientists in three research fields—life sciences, physics and engineering, and chemistry—in recognition of outstanding achievement and to encourage excellence, originality and innovation. The three winners are carefully selected by the advisory committee, which comprises prominent researchers including the president of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the president and director of the New York Academy of Sciences.
Of the 40 promising young researchers under the age of 40 around the world who have been awarded a Blavatnik Prize this year, Prof. Shai Carmi of the Braun School of Public Health at the Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine was selected to receive the prestigious prize in the field of life sciences. The prize committee explained that Prof. Carmi has been awarded the prize for his pioneering work that combines models of genetic inheritance with algorithms, with the aim of identifying risks of future diseases using DNA testing. “Prof. Carmi uses advanced technology to fill in gaps in human history in order to develop better genetic testing,” the prize committee explained. “His work has revealed the link between genetic variants behind various diseases, and he is working to apply techniques that predict future diseases, which will identify people at high risk and develop individually tailored tests and preventative tools.”
Prof. Carmi is considered one of the world’s leading researchers in genetic epidemiology and population genetics. His research has demonstrated that genetics is linked to levels of education, medical conditions, and other attributes of human populations around the world. His most recent study, which analyzed the DNA of Jews who lived in 14th-century Germany, uncovered surprising and previously unknown details about the medieval German Jewish population, including how remarkably small it was, with implications for the incidence of disease-causing genetic variants among Ashkenazi Jews.
Prof. Carmi has been awarded numerous prizes and research grants over the course of his academic career, including the Hebrew University President’s Ben Porat Prize for Outstanding Young Researcher (2020) and a Wolf Foundation scholarship (2009). The 2023 Blavatnik Prizes in Israel will be presented at a special ceremony to be held at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation in Tel Aviv-Jaffa on June 7. Prof. Carmi will join a select band of young researchers who have received a Blavatnik Prize in Israel, and will also become a member of the international Blavatnik community, which as of this year will number more than 400 scientists and engineers around the world.