One of Israel’s – and the World’s — Top Awards Given to Five Americans, One Australian and One Israeli Physician/Scientist

Behold, Hashem comes in might, And His arm wins triumph for Him; See, His reward is with Him, His recompense before Him.




(the israel bible)

February 15, 2021

6 min read

One of Israel’s and the world’s most prestigious awards, the Dan David Prize worth a total of $3 million, will be presented to seven leading scientists and physicians, five of them American, one Australian and one Israeli. 


Among the laureates are Dr. Anthrony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the U.S. National Institutes of Health since 1984, who was ridiculed and denounced by then-president Donald Trump for his warnings about the deadly COVID-19 pandemic but has been made the new White House chief medical adviser of President Joe Biden. 


The internationally renowned Dan David Prize, headquartered at Tel Aviv University, annually awards three prizes of US $1 million each to globally inspiring individuals and organizations. The prize honors outstanding contributions that expand knowledge of the past, enrich society in the present and promise to improve the future of our world. This year’s fields are: History of Health and Medicine (Past category), Public Health (Present category), and Molecular Medicine (Future category).


Fauci, who worked with five US presidents, was cited by the Dan David Board that chose him as “the consummate model of leadership and impact in public health. He oversees an extensive research portfolio focused on infectious and immune-mediated diseases. He is widely respected throughout the world for his efforts to develop novel diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines against COVID-19.  As the COVID-19 pandemic unraveled, he leveraged his considerable communication skills to address people gripped by fear and anxiety and worked relentlessly to inform individuals in the US and elsewhere about the public health measures essential for containing the pandemic’s spread.  In addition, he has been widely praised for his courage in speaking truth to power in a highly charged political environment. Dr. Fauci also has made many seminal contributions in basic and clinical research and is one of the world’s most-cited biomedical scientists. He was one of the principal architects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which has saved millions of lives throughout the developing world.” 


During the 2020 presidential campaign, Trump president called him “a disaster.” In an interview with The Atlantic magazine on January 27, Fauci described Trump’s personality: “It was the lack of rigor. The president would get a phone call from a buddy he knew from somewhere. Or he would bring in some questionable person who would whisper in his ear, ‘I think this works’ or ‘I think we should do that.’ Trump would put anecdote on the same level as scientific data. To him, if a good friend said that hydroxychloroquine or oregano worked [as treatments for COVID-19], that would be as good as Tony Fauci saying it doesn’t work.” 

Fauci continued in the interview: “I don’t take any great pleasure in contradicting the president of the United States. I have a great deal of respect for the office. But I had to do it as a symbol to the rest of the world that science is not going to flinch in the face of somebody who’s spouting nonsense. That’s why I had to step up to the podium a couple of times…He is a very charismatic character. And there was something about our commonality of being New Yorkers that we developed this strange relationship, where we really liked each other. If I say that I liked him, my wife would have a heart attack. But there was something about him that was charismatic and likable on a personal basis – not on a policy basis.” 

Fauci added that he believed Trump refused to wear a mask out of a sense of masculinity. “He’s a pretty macho guy,” Fauci told The Atlantic. “It’s almost like it diminishes one’s manhood to wear a mask. To him, a mask was a sign of weakness.” 

In a different interview, Fauci said he was “a little bit nervous” about catching the coronavirus during Trump’s administration, since the White House at the time was “sort of a superspreader location.”” 

The other Dan David Prize laureates are health and medicine historians Prof. Alison Bashford; Prof. Katharine Park; Prof. Keith Wailoo; and the pioneers of an anti-cancer immunotherapy, Prof. Zelig Eshhar, Prof. Carl June, and Dr. Steven Rosenberg. 


For the History of Health and Medicine (Past Category), Bashford of Sydney, Australia was described by the Dan David organization as “a world-leader and an agenda-setter in the history of health and medicine. “Her wide-ranging work is unusually expansive across geographies, topics, and periods, and demonstrates the global interconnectedness of medicine and public health in the modern world. As one of the earliest analysts of the relationship between public health, disease control, and race, she galvanized historians of health and medicine worldwide around the question of quarantine and medico-legal border control. When the biosecurity threats of SARS, anthrax and avian influenza amplified political insecurity in the early 2000s, she quickly convened scholars from diverse fields, curating and editing three books that have expanded our understanding of that complex global moment. One of them constitutes a major resource for understanding the current global pandemic.”


Park, a professor emerita of the history of science at Harvard University, is a pioneering scholar of medieval and early modern science and medicine. “Her early scholarship focused on the medical profession in Renaissance Florence; applying an innovative approach, she surveyed “the entire world of medical practice” in the wake of the first plague epidemic in 1348. Her research re-orients what we thought we knew about medieval and Renaissance anatomy and places gender at the center of the analysis, demonstrating how this can provide radically new insights. Combining conceptual temerity, visionary analysis, and methodological innovation, her work has revitalized the field and is reshaping our understanding of gender, sexuality, and the [female] body in pre-modern societies.”


Wailoo, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, “is shedding new light on hidden health experiences in the past, from pain management to the way cultural values shape ideas about cancer, or how sickle-cell disease emerged from medical invisibility to become a focal point of debate in the US over race, health equity and social justice../By forcefully bringing a historical perspective into public commentary and policy discussions on topics ranging from the opioid crisis to the politics of vaccination and COVID-19, he is advancing a broad understanding of health and health equity.”


Eshhar. a leading immunologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot and the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, shares the prize in for molecular medicine in the Future Category. Known for his pioneering work on T cells and chimeric antigen receptors cancer immunotherapy, he and his team were the first to employ the CAR -T cells to specifically fight cancer. He also worked to create unique antibodies for allergies. 


June is a physician scientist and professor in immunotherapy at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center. June and his lab discovered several basic scientific principles of how the cells in the immune system work to fight cancer and infections in the 1980s and 1990s. His lab went on to conduct the first clinical evaluation of gene-modified T cells, initially in people with HIV/AIDS and then in patients with advanced leukemia beginning using CAR T cell therapy, the approach that retrains a patient’s own immune cells to attack cancer. 


Rosenberg is chief of the surgery branch at the Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland and a professor of surgery at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences and the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. He pioneered the development of gene therapy and was the first to successfully insert foreign genes into humans. He was also the first to demonstrate the effectiveness of genetically engineered CAR-T cells to mediate the regression of B-cell malignancies in humans, a treatment now approved by the FDA for widespread use. 


The Dan David Prize was established by the late Dan David, an international businessman and philanthropist who aimed at rewarding those who have made a lasting impact on society and to help young students and entrepreneurs become the scholars and leaders of the future. The laureates donate 10% of their award money to scholarships for graduate or post-graduate researchers in their respective fields.


Prof. Ariel Porat, president of Tel Aviv University and chairman of the Dan David Prize Board, commented: “The coronavirus pandemic has presented humanity with new challenges. Therefore, this year, we decided to honor the fields at the forefront of the battle against the virus – health and medicine.” 


Ariel David, director of the Dan David Foundation and son of the prize founder, added: ““During the past year, we sought to address the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. We chose to do so while staying true to the broad and diverse approach that distinguishes the zrize, recognizing achievements in a wide variety of fields that deal with issues of health, medicine and epidemiology…I feel fortunate that we have the opportunity to celebrate their achievements and to remind ourselves that it is only by marshaling all the resources of the human intellect that we can trace a path through the darkest of crises.”



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