Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise

The Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise were established in 2009 as a complement to the Vilcek Prizes, to encourage and support emerging to mid-career immigrant artists and scientists who have demonstrated exceptional achievements early in their careers. As with the Vilcek Prizes, the Creative Promise Prizes are awarded annually in biomedical science and in a rotating category of the arts — in 2021, in filmmaking.

Selection Process

Three winners are selected in each category through an application process juried by panels of experts in each field.

The Creative Promise Prizewinners each receive a $50,000 cash award and are honored at an awards ceremony in New York City.

A photo of the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise certificates.

2020 Creative Promise Prizewinners

Kıvanç Birsoy receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science for developing cutting-edge tools to unravel the altered metabolism of cancer cells and uncovering molecular targets for treatment.
Viviana Gradinaru receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science for developing next-generation tools in optogenetics, tissue clearing, and gene delivery, with potential therapeutic applications in human diseases.
Martin Jonikas receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science for molecular studies on Chlamydomonas, a model photosynthetic organism, with long-term implications for improving food-crop yield and combating climate change.
Yaa Gyasi receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Literature for deeply engaging writing that unites the twin arcs of West African and African American history, and for her relentless examination of injustices of the past and present in "Homegoing" (2016).
Valeria Luiselli receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Literature for intelligent, distinctive fiction and nonfiction that interrogates the United States’ immigration system, and bears witness to those left voiceless by mass deportation.
Jenny Xie receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Literature for the construction of a unique poetic voice that—in its play and invention—examines the essence of perspective and selfhood through an evocative lens in "Eye Level" (2018).