Science  20 Jun 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5883, pp. 1571

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    Just as spring heralds a slew of entertainment awards, summer seems to be the season for scientists. A number of prestigious prizes for career achievements have been announced in the past few weeks. Here is a sampling, recognizing researchers in fields from astronomy to pediatric surgery.


    Research in brain abnormalities, magnetism, cheese, and Irish culture have garnered four scientists the Spinoza Prize, the Netherlands' biggest scientific honor. Each awardee will receive €1.5 million from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research for their research.

    de Vos, Rasing, Leerssen, and van der Knaap. CREDIT: NWO/ARIE WAPENAAR

    Marjo van der Knaap, a child neurologist at VU University Amsterdam, was selected for identifying new diseases affecting the nerve fibers of brain cells and improving their diagnosis. Theo Rasing, a physicist at Radboud University Nijmegen, was recognized for manipulating magnetism with lasers. Willem de Vos, a microbiologist at Wageningen University, has worked on intestinal bacteria, as well as how to improve the taste and shelf life of cheese. Also honored was Joep Leerssen, a literature professor at the University of Amsterdam, for studies of Irish cultural history and how stereotypes are formed. The awards will be presented by Dutch Education Minister Ronald Plasterk in November.



    Two scientists have been honored for lifetime contributions to addressing global environmental problems. Claude Lorius (left), director emeritus of research at CNRS, the French national research agency, headquartered in Paris, and José Goldemberg of the University of São Paulo in Brazil are this year's recipients of the Blue Planet Prize.

    Lorius is being recognized for work dating from the 1950s on ancient levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The results, obtained from Antarctic ice cores, helped to bolster the case for human-induced global warming in modern times. Goldemberg helped launch Brazil's bioethanol program in the 1970s and pioneered the concept of “technological leap-frogging,” in which developing countries adopt renewable energy technologies. He was environment minister when Brazil hosted the 1992 Earth Summit. The Blue Planet Prize is funded by the Asahi Glass Foundation in Tokyo. Each scientist will receive $463,000.



    An AIDS expert, a pediatric neurosurgeon, and a former top U.S. health official are among six Americans selected last week to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest award for civilians.

    Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, is being honored for research on treatments and vaccines for HIV/AIDS. Benjamin Carson Sr. (above) of Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore, Maryland, is being recognized for work on neurological disorders and creating scholarships for deserving high school graduates. Donna Shalala, president of the University of Miami, Florida, and secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton, is being lauded for efforts to improve health care and education.



    Allan Spradling has won this year's Gruber Genetics Prize from the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation based in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Spradling, who directs the Carnegie Institution's Department of Embryology in Baltimore, Maryland, is recognized for his work on fruit fly genetics and developmental biology.

    Spradling pioneered methods to insert DNA into the Drosophila melanogaster genome, helping to make it a premier model organism for studying how genes control development. In their work on the fruit fly ovary, he and his colleagues were the first to describe a stem cell niche, the group of cells that surround stem cells and help guide their behavior. Spradling will receive $500,000 and a gold medal at the International Congress of Genetics next month in Berlin, Germany.


    The 2008 Shaw Prizes have been awarded to six researchers in astronomy, life science and medicine, and mathematical sciences. The prize, which carries a $1 million award, was begun in 2004 by Hong Kong movie and TV entrepreneur Run Run Shaw.

    Reinhard Genzel, managing director of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany, won the astronomy award for work demonstrating that the Milky Way has a supermassive black hole at its center. Ian Wilmut of the University of Edinburgh, U.K., and Keith Campbell of the University of Nottingham, U.K., will split half of the life science and medicine prize, with the other half going to Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University in Japan. The award recognizes their work on reversing the process of cell differentiation in mammals. Ludwig Faddeev of the Petersburg Department of Steklov Institute of Mathematics in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Vladimir Arnold of the Steklov Mathematical Institute in Moscow will share the mathematical sciences award for their contributions to mathematical physics.