Israeli prize for Australian academic

February 16, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The Dan David Prize has announced that Australian Professor Alison Bashford of the University of NSW is among the recipients of the 2021 award, alongside American infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci and fellow distinguished medical historians and health researchers, reflecting the worldwide desire to understand and combat the COVID-19 pandemic and improve global health.

Professor Alison Bashford

Prof. Bashford joins fellow historians Prof. Katharine Park and Prof. Keith Wailoo, all of whom share a prize of $1 million, for their work in the field of History of Health and Medicine (Past category). Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Dr Anthony Fauci won the prize in the field of Public Health (Present category). Anti-cancer immunotherapy pioneers Prof. Zelig Eshhar, Prof. Carl June, and Dr Steven Rosenberg won in the field of Molecular Medicine (Future category).

The internationally renowned prize, headquartered at Tel Aviv University, annually honours outstanding contributions of globally inspiring individuals and organizations that expand knowledge of the past, enrich society in the present, and promise to improve the future of our world. The Prize awards three gifts of $1 million, shared among the winners of each category. The total purse of $3 million makes the Dan David Prize one of the highest-valued awards internationally.

The seven laureates will be honoured at the 2021 Dan David Prize Award Ceremony, to be held in an special online event in May 2021.

In the announcement, the Prize committee commended Prof. Bashford “for her wide-ranging  historical  work that goes  beyond national  borders, demonstrating  the  global interconnectedness  of  medicine  and public  health in the  modern world, bringing  our  attention to  the Global South;  and  for spearheading  collaboration  with anthropologists  and sociologists  at  times  of  global pandemic  threat, resulting  in a  deeper  understanding of medico-legal disease  control policies  and  practices.”

Ariel David, director of the Dan David Foundation and son of the prize founder, said that this year’s laureates “have probed how humanity has dealt with sickness and pandemics throughout history; they have provided relief, guidance and leadership in dealing with current outbreaks – from AIDS to Ebola and the Novel Coronavirus – and they are at the forefront of discovering new treatments that give us hope for the future in the ongoing battle against cancer and other diseases.”

Prof. Bashford said: “I never imagined that historical work I pursued decades ago on the global management of infectious disease would be playing out before us with such force. I always thought that quarantine, isolation, masks, and ‘plague ships’ would remain part of our collective past, not our global present. But this is all a reminder of how history is part of our present, in all matters. I’m grateful that the Dan David Board recognises, each year, the significance of analysis of the human past, and honoured to be this year’s Laureate.”

Since its inception 20 years ago, the Dan David Prize has acknowledged thinkers and innovators who have made a major impact on humankind, including cellist Yo-Yo Ma (2006); former US Vice President Al Gore (2008); co-discoverer of the AIDS virus Prof. Robert Gallo (2009); novelist Margaret Atwood (2010); filmmakers Ethan and Joel Coen (2011); renowned economist Esther Duflo (2013); and artificial intelligence researcher, neuroscientist, and entrepreneur Dr Demis Hassabis (2020).

The laureates donate 10% of their award money to scholarships for graduate or post-graduate researchers in their respective fields.

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