The Award Winners 2014
At the 31st Award Ceremony, the Albert Einstein World Award of Science and the José Vasconcelos World Award of Education will be conferred on eminent pioneers in their respective fields in honour of their tireless efforts to advance human culture and well-being.
The Laureates 2014
Albert Einstein World Award of Science: Professor Sir Philip Cohen
José Vasconcelos World Award of Education: Professor Federico Rosei
The winner of the Albert Einstein World Award of Science by the World Cultural Council in 2014 is Professor Sir Philip Cohen, Professor of Enzymology, and Deputy Director of the Division of Signal Transduction Therapy (DSTT) at the Medical Research Council’s Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit, University of Dundee, United Kingdom.
The prize is awarded for his 40-year outstanding and continuing scientific career devoted to studying and establishing the profound importance of protein phosphorylation in regulating almost every physiological process.
Cohen is one of the world’s most cited scientists in Biology and Biochemistry. His visionary dissection of insulin and other major signal transduction pathways defines the molecular basis of hormone action and how such mechanisms malfunction in diseases ranging from diabetes to cancer.
His pivotal contribution has been to elucidate a major section of the insulin signal transduction-signalling pathway, essentially from scratch, starting at a time when virtually nothing was known about cell signalling. This was to be based on his dissection of protein kinase dependent cascades, which are the major intracellular components of hormonal signalling networks.
Cohen’s initial idea was to select a physiological endpoint action of insulin, specifically the mechanism by which insulin stimulated glycogen synthesis, the rate-limiting enzyme of glycogen synthase. He then painstakingly worked backwards towards the top end of the insulin-signalling pathway in the hope that the upward groups would eventually meet those working down from the top. This work has taken over 20 years of intensive research but recently Cohen’s laboratory eventually linked the two halves of this chain.
His research has raised Dundee University to one of the leading academic institutions in his field of study. Cohen has made decisive contributions to the growth and international reputation of life sciences at the university and to the development of a life sciences cluster in the city, which now accounts for 16% of its economy. In fact, the College of Life Sciences has, for several years, been voted for one of the best scientific environments in the world to work in. Additionally, the Scottish Institute for Cell Signalling was founded in Dundee in 2008.
Throughout his career Cohen has been an exceptional mentor of talented young researchers. More than one hundred Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scientists have trained in his laboratory over thirty-eight years, with the vast majority now working in senior roles as academic research leaders.
Besides the 2014 Albert Einstein World Award of Science, Cohen has received numerous awards, including the Pfizer Innovation Award for Europe (1999), the Rolf Luft Prize of the Karolinska Institute of Stockholm (2006), the Royal Medal of the Royal Society (2008) and the Medical Research Council’s Millennium Medal (2013). He is member of a number of science academies and societies, among them the Academia Europaea.
The 2014 José Vasconcelos World Award of Education laureate is Professor Federico Rosei, Professor and Director of the Centre for Energy, Materials and Telecommunications of the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université du Québec, Varennes, Canada.
The prize is awarded for his impressive career, both within the Chemical Sciences and as an advocate of a global approach to societal development through scientific knowledge and innovation, inspiring and educating people. In addition, the award recognises his vision and talent, through which he built a global network of young researchers, many of whom have obtained leading positions both in science and in society.
Rosei is a young scientist with a singularly clear vision of how science and its application can be used as a tool to empower individuals to address some of humanity’s most pressing challenges.
Since starting his independent career in 2002, he has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to training and mentoring young scientists. He has assembled a diverse, talented research group by drawing over ninety trainees from 25 countries on all six continents, many of whom have returned to their home countries to practise and teach science. Over half of these have received prestigious fellowships and awards from a variety of funding agencies.
In an attempt to bridge the gap within scientific and technological knowledge in developing countries, Rosei has launched initiatives to aid materials research. He has given invited and keynote lectures at conferences in Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Venezuela, Vietnam and Zimbabwe, along with numerous seminars in academic institutions. He has also published works on the subject.
Most recently, Rosei has materialised his vision for capacity building in developing countries through the establishment of the UNESCO Chair in Materials and Technologies for Energy Conversion, Saving and Storage (MATECSS), of which he will be the inaugural Chairholder at INRS.
The creation of the network of partners that comprises MATECSS, which currently spans Algeria, China, Costa Rica, India, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa and Vietnam, bears testimony to Rosei’s strong connections with scientists around the world and demonstrates the reach of his educational influence.
Rosei has additionally designed and implemented a graduate course to enhance soft professional skills in young scientists and help them make informed career choices. He has given over 35 Survival Skills lectures in universities worldwide and a dozen invited talks at international conferences. The popularity of his book “Survival Skills for Scientists” published in 2006 is a clear indicator of the value of his advice on professional development.
On another front, Rosei has delivered numerous public lectures on energy and society at high schools and other public venues to educate the public at large on issues of sustainability, once again reflecting his passion for education, knowledge sharing and talent inspiration at all levels.