This year, the foundation awarded prizes to nine individuals. The 2021 Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science, which includes a $100,000 cash award, was given to Ruth Lehmann, a native of Cologne, Germany, and today director of the Whitehead Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in recognition of her work on the molecular mechanism by which germ cells, which give rise to sperm and egg cells, are formed. Awarded on a rotating category basis, the $100,000 Vilcek Prize in Arts and Humanities, was awarded to Mexico City-born cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto in recognition of his virtuosity, versatility, and central role in creating some of contemporary cinema's most indelible works. And the $100,000 Vilcek Prize for Excellence was awarded to entrepreneur and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, in recognition of his leadership in advancing solutions to challenges ranging from wealth inequality, to corporate use of consumers' personal data, to autism.
In addition, Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science were awarded to Egyptian native Mohamed Abou Donia, associate professor of molecular biology at Princeton University, for his work demonstrating the potential of the human microbiome as a source of novel drugs and uncovering the basis of microbiome-driven drug metabolism; Ibrahim Cissé, a native of Niger and associate professor of physics and biology at MIT, for his use of super-resolution biological imaging to visualize the dynamic nature of gene expression in living cells; and Bulgarian-born Silvi Rouskin, an Andria and Paul Heafy Whitehead Fellow at MIT's Whitehead Institute, for developing methods to unravel the shapes of RNA molecules inside of cells and aiding the potential development of RNA-based therapeutics.
The foundation also awarded Prizes for Creative Promise in filmmaking to Juan Pablo González in recognition of the artistic rigor and deep emotional engagement he brings to his immersive and intimate explorations of his hometown in rural Mexico; Miko Revereza, a native of the Philippines, for the ingenuity and urgency with which he bridges the personal and the political in works that challenge preconceptions of documentary filmmaking and the immigrant experience; and Nanfu Wang, a native of China, whose documentaries unflinchingly confront the consequences of systemic oppression and corruption in that country. Each Creative Promise winner will receive a $50,000 cash award.