The World Cultural Council (WCC) and City University of Hong Kong (CityU) are pleased to announce that the 35th WCC Award Ceremony will take place on Thursday 8th November 2018. At the event, the “Albert Einstein” World Award of Science and the “José Vasconcelos” World Award of Education will be conferred on eminent pioneers in their respective fields in honour of their tireless efforts to advance human culture and well-being.
For more than three decades the World Cultural Council has been recognizing individuals that have made exceptional achievements in science, education and the arts, with the final objective of promoting tolerance, peace and fraternity, seeking to encourage the use of science, art and education to further the well-being of humanity.
The prizes are given to those whose work has had a significantly positive impact on the cultural legacy of mankind. The high level of the jury, comprised of world-renowned scholars and eminent individuals in the above fields, enhances the prestige of the awards. The WCC annually organizes an Award Ceremony at which these recognitions are conferred. Each ceremony is held in a different country with a renowned university or academic institute acting as host.
This year the WCC is delighted to enhance relations with City University of Hong Kong, one of the region’s most dynamic universities. According to the latest QS rankings, CityU is ranked 49th in the world and 4th among the world's top 50 universities under 50 years of age, and is ranked 8th in Asia.
This innovative university is thus an ideal environment for recognizing the outstanding achievements of the WCC’s laureates and celebrating the inspiration that they bring as role models for future generations.
With an emphasis on professional education and research, CityU produces graduates with the ability to anticipate and precipitate change in a rapidly-evolving, globalised world.
In recent years, CityU has performed strongly in university rankings and is currently among the top 10 in Asia and the top 50 in the world. It is a fast-growing institution with 20,000 students, including 6,500 postgraduate students, and about 1,000 academic staff in science and engineering, business, creative media, law, the humanities and social sciences, energy and environment, and veterinary medicine and life sciences.
The unique Discovery-enriched Curriculum and its emphasis on innovation and creativity underlies all aspects of the University’s professional education and problem-driven research. Supported by novel learning spaces and facilities in new buildings, the curriculum embodies CityU’s Strategic Plan for a new era of growth.
CityU’s proximity to, and close ties with, mainland China, as well as its international partnerships and outlook, make the University ideally positioned to provide a dynamic learning and research environment for students and faculty from all over the world.
Professor Jean-Pierre Changeux, Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience at the Institut Pasteur and Collège de France has been selected as the winner of the 2018 Albert Einstein World Award of Science.
Professor Changeux has been recognised for his exceptional scientific achievements and leadership in the field of neuroscience, and especially for his pioneering contributions to the science and understanding of neuroreceptors over the past 50 years. One of his groundbreaking discoveries revealed that the acetylcholine receptor as a model membrane receptor was one of the most central regulatory mechanisms in biology, leading to original insights concerning the chemistry of the brain and ultimately the brain-mind relationship.
The WCC jury acknowledged the significant impact that Professor Changeux’s research has had on healthcare and our understanding of human neural processes. His work on the mechanism of neural networks has narrowed the gap between molecular biology and cognitive sciences.
At the beginning of his career in the 1960s, working with Jacques Monod, François Jacob and Jeffries Wyman, Jean-Pierre Changeux made a breakthrough that led to the development of the theory of allosteric transitions in proteins. This now well-established concept postulated that regulatory ligands control the activity of the active sites of enzymes when they bind to topologically distinct sites.
Soon after, he proposed a similar concept to explain the behaviour of synaptic receptors for neurotransmitters. During the decades that followed, he proved this hypothesis, too. He characterised and purified the acetylcholine receptor from the electric organ of a fish, the first receptor for a neurotransmitter and ligand-gated ion channel to be identified.
Further studies have shown that human diseases are associated with mutations that change the conformational equilibrium of allosteric proteins, including growth factor receptors. Furthermore, many of the drugs developed to modulate receptors coupled to G proteins are in fact allosteric modulators. Currently, many pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are developing allosteric modulators of receptors or other key proteins in human cells for use as efficient drugs in neurological disorders as well as other diseases including cancer.
Moving from the molecules and the isolated neurons or muscle cells to the development of neuronal networks, Professor Changeux and his colleagues made a far-reaching contribution by first proposing in mathematical terms and then testing the theory that the long-term epigenesis of neuronal networks occurs by the selective stabilisation and elimination of developing synapses.
At the same time, he and his colleagues proposed theoretical models for defined cognitive tasks that bridge the gap between molecular biology and cognitive sciences and where allosteric receptors play a key role in the regulation of synaptic efficacy. Furthermore, they put forward an original hypothesis describing a neuronal mechanism for conscious access, implying a “global neuronal workspace” composed of a brain-scale horizontal network of reciprocally connected long axon pyramidal neurons.
Professor Changeux has been concerned about the ethical consequences of recent progress in neuroscience for medicine and for society in general, and has made it widely known in his popular work L’homme neuronal, (Neuronal Man: The Biology of The Mind) in 1983. In his book La Nature et La Règle, Ce Qui Nous Fait Penser (What makes us think?) co-authored with Paul Ricoeur in 1998, a neuroscientist and a philosopher argue about ethics, human nature and the brain. This major work was followed by books on the way we perceive paintings and music or how we think and speak, all of which were further enhanced by Professor Changeux’s vast knowledge of art, music, history and philosophy.
During his career, he has accumulated a vast collection of works of art, mostly paintings, lithographs and prints from the seventeenth century. Part of his collection was donated to the Bossuet Art Museum in Meaux.
Professor Changeux has received many major scientific acknowledgements and prizes, among them the Wolf Prize in Medicine (1983), Grand Prix de la Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale (1997), the Linus Pauling medal (1999) and the Balzan prize (2001). He was invited to become a member of various academies of science and letters, among them Academia Europaea, Accademia dei Lincei, Leopoldina and the French Académie des Sciences. He is doctor honoris causa of almost twenty universities worldwide.
The 2018 José Vasconcelos World Award of Education will be granted to Professor Malik Mâaza of the University of South Africa (UNISA) and at iThemba LABS-National Research Foundation of South Africa, and holder of the UNESCO-UNISA Africa Chair in Nanosciences and Nanotechnology, UNESCO.
The award acknowledges Professor Mâaza’s work in promoting education for societal development and sustainability, and recognises his international and humanistic approach to science education as well as his commitment to training and mentoring young scientists on the African continent. To this end, Professor Mâaza has worked tirelessly to raise funds worldwide in support of researchers from less affluent countries. He has helped scientists from war zones in Africa and the Middle East pursue their research and has organised periodic exchanges between renowned scientists of Israeli and Arabic origin, seeking to build bridges through science.
The WCC jury was additionally impressed by Professor Mâaza’s promotion of female scientists in conservative communities.
Professor Malik Mâaza is an African physicist and an accomplished researcher and educator, born in Algeria in 1963 and working in South Africa. His clear vision of how science can be used as a tool to empower individuals to address some of humanity’s most pressing challenges has been demonstrated through his commitment to training and mentoring young scientists.
He is greatly respected for his work as a pioneer of nanoscience and nanotechnology on the African continent and, most importantly, for his accomplishments as an outstanding educator and dedicated mentor. He has significantly contributed to the education of numerous PhD students and postdoctoral researchers.
He has also played a crucial part in keeping South Africa at the leading edge of international research. In this sense, he plays a key strategic planning role in developing South African research programmes and research grant proposals. His work has earned him international recognition from UNESCO, which appointed him to the first South-South Chair in Nanosciences & Nanotechnology: the UNESCO UNISA Africa Chair in Nanosciences and Nanotechnology, also known as U2ACN2.
Recognised by the global scientific community for the value of his published work through frequent invitations to speak at international events, he acts as an ambassador and voice for the African continent in the multidisciplinary field of nanotechnology.
Professor Mâaza’s contributions in the area of education are not confined to the classroom. He has created platforms for the introduction of emerging areas of education like materials science, space sciences and laser sciences. The many new facilities that he has set up underpin a range of scientific programmes, while he has established his own team and exploited his own expertise and ideas to build stronger relations with both academia and industry at national and international level.
His dedication to the cause of women in science is seen through his role as a member of the international as well as the Sub-Saharan juries of the L’Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science. He is a major player in promoting the role of women in science, especially those living in low and medium income countries. He is also a peace activist, using science as a powerful path for fostering human relations between young researchers.
His work as UNESCO Chair has had a huge impact on building capacities among the future generation of African scientists.
The annual “Albert Einstein” World Award of Science was created as a recognition for scientists whose scientific or technological achievements have brought progress and benefit to mankind. The laureate is selected by the Council’s Interdisciplinary Committee, which is composed of highly acknowledged scientists from across the globe.
The “José Vasconcelos” World Award of Education is granted to a renowned educator, an authority in the field of teaching, or someone who has brought about visionary development in education policy. Through his/her work, the individual or team should have had a significantly positive influence on the quality and reach of teaching and learning in our society. The prize is awarded every second year.
WCC will grant special acknowledgements to young researchers and scholars from Hong Kong who have performed outstandingly in the fields of science, education or arts.
To be announced later
Please confirm your attendance by 28 October 2018.
Harbour Plaza Metropolis
Address: 7 Metropolis Drive, Hunghom, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 3160 6888
Distance: 20 mins by train from Hotel to CityU
(Hung Hom Station to Kowloon Tong Station)
Reservation cut-off date: 5 October 2018