Filed under: Big Givers
Could the Kavli prize someday have the same cachet as the Nobel prize? That's what industrialist Fred Kavli is hoping for. The 80-year-old multimillionaire has created what he believes will be the prize to win in the modern age. The Kavli Foundation rewards research in nanoscience, astrophysics and neuroscience, the three scientific fields he believes are most beneficial to the happiness and survival of the human race. Kavli's foundation has established research institutes at Harvard, Yale, Stanford and 12 other universities.
On Wednesday the first Kavli Prizes in Astrophysics, Nanoscience and Neuroscience were handed out to seven winners, from the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands, Japan and the US. Each will receive a scroll, medal and a share of the $1,000,000 prize for each subject. The astrophysics prize was awarded jointly to Maarten Schmidt, of the California Institute of Technology, US, and Donald Lynden-Bell, of Cambridge University, UK, both of whose work underpins our understanding of quasars. The nanoscience recipients are Louis E. Brus, of Columbia University, US, and Sumio Iijima, of Meijo University in Japan, who share the nanoscience prize for their respective discoveries of colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals, also known as quantum dots, and carbon nanotubes. The neuroscience prize went to three scientists who collectively have deciphered the basic mechanisms that govern the development and functioning of the networks of cells in the brain and spinal cord. Pasko Rakic, of the Yale University School of Medicine, in the US, explained how the neurons in the embryonic brain arrange themselves during development into the complex, densely interconnected circuitry of the adult cerebral cortex. Thomas Jessell, of Columbia University, US, has revealed the chemical signals behind the differentiation of early progenitor cells into the complex assembly of different types of neurons that make up neuronal circuits. Sten Grillner, of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden showed how neural circuits in mammalian spinal cords generate motor commands for rhythmic movements such as locomotion. His lamprey model is seen as the first and so far only vertebrate neuronal system controlling an integrated function that is understood at a molecular and cellular level.
Kavli's company Kavlico, which developed sensors for military and civilian aircraft, the space shuttle and automobiles, was sold in 2000 for $345 million and currently his real estate holdings have an estimated value of about $300 million.
[via LA Times]