Professors Dinca and Pentelute

Dincă and Pentelute named 2018 Blavatnik Award Finalists

Categories: Awards, Faculty

The Blavatnik Family Foundation has announced the Finalists for 2018 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists: World’s Largest Unrestricted Prizes to Early Career Scientists

The Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists has announced that Associate Professor Mircea Dincă and Associate Professor Bradley L. Pentelute are two of the 31 U.S. National Finalists selected from 286 outstanding faculty-rank researchers to compete for the world’s largest unrestricted prizes for early career scientists. Each year, three Blavatnik National Laureates in the categories of Life Sciences, Chemistry, and Physical Sciences & Engineering are awarded $250,000 each.

Dincă was selected as a finalist in the Chemistry category for his boundary-pushing work in the area of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). MOFs were traditionally used for gas storage and separation and were usually electrical insulators. Dincă was the first to design new MOFs that function as conductors, with electrical conductivity comparable to that of the best conducting polymers used in organic solar cells. These materials open the door to a host of new applications in solar cells as well as new membranes for better lithium- and sodium-ion rechargeable batteries.

Pentelute was selected as a finalist in the Life Sciences category for his work on synthesizing new biomolecules for therapeutic compounds, focusing on peptides and proteins. He developed fast-flow peptide synthesis, a new technology that assembles polypeptides from smaller individual molecules at unprecedented speed. Pentelute’s group can form links between amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, in less than a minute, and generate complete peptide molecules containing up to 60 amino acids in less than an hour, a vast improvement from current technologies.

Spearheaded by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and administered by the New York Academy of Sciences, the Blavatnik National Awards recognize both the past accomplishments and the future promise of the most talented scientific and engineering researchers aged 42 years and younger at America’s top academic and research institutions. The three 2018 National Laureates will be announced on June 27, 2018.

“We created the Blavatnik Awards to identify the brightest young minds in science early in their scientific careers,” said Len Blavatnik, Founder and Chairman of Access Industries, head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation and member of the President’s Council of the New York Academy of Sciences. “These 31 Finalists, through their creative, cutting-edge research, have demonstrated great promise for future discoveries of enormous scientific importance.”

Past Finalists have gone on to make discoveries that turn science fiction into reality, including creating plants that emit light or detect explosives, formulating new theories of time travel through black holes, bioengineering micro-robots that can swim through arteries and heart valves, gene-editing DNA and RNA sequences to treat previously incurable genetic diseases, and detecting infectious epidemic viruses through a cellphone. Blavatnik Scholars advance the progress of humanity through scientific discovery.

“The 31 National Finalists in the U.S. join the Blavatnik Awards community of scholars — a decade’s worth of Finalists and Laureates who are leading scientific research into the next century,” said Ellis Rubinstein, President and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences and Chair of the Awards’ Scientific Advisory Council. “With continued support and recognition from the Blavatnik Awards, our goal is to launch these pioneering young scientists onto an even higher trajectory of scientific pursuit, giving them a visible platform to attract new collaborators, future grants, investors, and other key resources.”

The Blavatnik Awards, established by the Blavatnik Family Foundation in the United States in 2007, and administered by the New York Academy of Sciences, began by identifying outstanding scientific talent in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The Blavatnik National Awards were inaugurated in 2014 and, in 2018, the Awards were expanded to include young scientists in the United Kingdom and Israel.

By the close of 2018, the Blavatnik Awards will have conferred prizes totaling $6.6 million, honoring 271 outstanding young scientists and engineers.

The 2018 Blavatnik National Laureates and Finalists will be honored at the Blavatnik National Awards on Monday, September 24, 2018, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.