The Vilcek Foundation is delighted to announce the recipients of the 2023 Vilcek Foundation Prizes. The Vilcek Foundation Prizes recognize and celebrate immigrant contributions to intellectual and cultural life in the United States. In 2023, a total of nine prizes are being awarded in two categories—in Biomedical Science and in Music—with a total award sum of $600,000.
The prizes are a vital part of how the foundation pursues its mission: to raise awareness of immigrant contributions in the United States, and to foster appreciation for the arts and sciences. When we recognize immigrant professionals with our awards, we provide direct support to immigrants, and we build public awareness of the value of immigration for scientific discovery and for culture and society.
The Vilcek Foundation Prizes comprise the Vilcek Prizes and the Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise.
The Vilcek Prizes are bestowed on immigrant professionals whose career achievements represent a legacy of major accomplishment in their field. Vilcek Prizewinners each receive an unrestricted cash award of $100,000 and a commemorative trophy.
The Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise are awarded to early- and mid-career immigrant professionals whose work has had a significant impact on their field, or represents a particular innovation with potential for further growth and development. Creative Promise Prizewinners each receive an unrestricted award of $50,000 and a commemorative certificate.
The 2023 Vilcek Foundation Prizewinners include:
- Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado (b. Venezuela)
- Du Yun (b. China)
- Angélique Kidjo (b. Benin)
- Edward Chouchani (b. Canada)
- Biyu J. He (b. China)
- Shixin Liu (b. China)
- Arooj Aftab (b. Saudi Arabia, to Pakistani parents)
- Juan Pablo Contreras (b. Mexico)
- Ruby Ibarra (b. Philippines)
Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science
Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado
Executive director and chief scientific officer, Stowers Institute for Medical Research, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
Born in Venezuela
Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado receives the Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science for his contributions to the field of regeneration—from the identification of crucial genes that control regeneration in living organisms, to the potential for regenerative medicine to treat disease.
Vilcek Prize in Music
Pulitzer Prize–winning composer and cofounder of the International Contemporary Ensemble
Born in China
Du Yun receives the Vilcek Prize in Music for her open approach to composition, which subverts the boundaries of traditional classical music by incorporating influences from punk, electronic, experimental music, and for the virtuosity of her Pulitzer Prize–winning opera, Angel’s Bone.
Grammy Award–winning singer-songwriter and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador
Born in Benin
Angélique Kidjo receives the Vilcek Prize in Music in recognition of her exceptional range as a singer-songwriter, and for her creative leadership in bringing African music to the global stage through her performances, albums, and collaborations.
Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science
Associate professor of cancer biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and associate professor of cell biology, Harvard Medical School
Born in Canada
Edward Chouchani receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science for his work to decipher the molecular mechanisms that drive metabolic disease, with the aim of developing therapeutic interventions targeted at the molecular drivers of metabolism within cells.
Biyu J. He
Assistant professor of neurology, neuroscience and physiology, and radiology, New York University Grossman School of Medicine
Born in China
Biyu J. He receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science for her leadership in the field of cognitive neuroscience, and for her groundbreaking discoveries on the biological bases of perceptual cognition and subjective experience.
Associate professor and head of laboratory, The Rockefeller University
Born in China
Shixin Liu receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise for applying cutting-edge biophysical tools to directly visualize, manipulate, and understand the physiological function of nanometer-scale biomolecular machines including DNA replication and transcription complexes at the single-molecule level.
Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise in Music
Singer, composer, and producer
Born in Saudi Arabia, to Pakistani parents
Arooj Aftab receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Music for her evocative songs and compositions that incorporate a range of influences from semi-classical Pakistani music and Urdu poetry, to jazz harmonies and experimental music.
Juan Pablo Contreras
Composer and conductor
Born in Mexico
Juan Pablo Contreras receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Music for his work as a composer and conductor of orchestral music that draws on his Mexican heritage, and for his leadership in founding the Orquesta Latino Mexicana.
Songwriter and producer
Born in the Philippines
Ruby Ibarra receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Music for her hip-hop and spoken word performances that center her experience as a Filipina American woman, and for her powerful lyrics that address colonialism, immigration, colorism, and misogyny.