The Blavatnik Family Foundation, headed by the businessman and philanthropist Len Blavatnik, and the New York Academy of Sciences will announce on Monday a new program that will award cash prizes of $250,000 each to faculty-rank scientists age 42 and younger each year, The New York Times reported. The awards are the largest unrestricted cash prizes of their kind, the newspaper said.
Mr. Blavatnik, who founded Access Industries, an international industrial group, said he had long dreamed of creating something like a Nobel Prize for young scientists. “The Nobel’s about $1-million,” he said. “I thought $250,000 was big enough to make it really interesting but not big enough to be scary. There are a lot of rewards for established scientists, but I don’t think young scientists get enough encouragement and support in a systematic way.”
Mr. Blavatnik’s foundation has been a generous contributors to higher education in recent years. In April it announced a $50-million donation to Harvard University to support basic biomedical research and student entrepreneurship. In 2010 the industrialist and the foundation donated about $114-million to the University of Oxford to create the Blavatnik School of Government.
The new program expands on a regional program that has operated in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut for the past seven years.
“The long-term goal of the awards is to create a pipeline of scientific support in which established scientists choose the most outstanding young faculty-rank scientists, who then go on to mentor the next generation of would-be scientists and award winners,” said Ellis Rubinstein, president of the New York Academy of Sciences.