Franklin Inst.’s Benjamin Franklin Medal and Bower Award Laureates

Source: The Franklin Institute

The Franklin Institute Committee on Science and the Arts Announces the Benjamin Franklin Medal and Bower Award Laureates for 2004

Raymond Damadian, Inventor of the First Magnetic Resonance Imaging
(MRI) Machine, Among the Laureates Honored with America’s Most
Historic Science Awards — Widely Regarded as American Nobel Prizes

PHILADELPHIA, March 18, 2004 (PRIMEZONE) — The Franklin Institute’s
Committee on Science and the Arts, together with Institute President
and CEO Dennis M. Wint, today announced the Benjamin Franklin Medal
and Bower Award laureates for 2004. These preeminent scientists are
being recognized for their outstanding achievements in the fields of
chemistry, computer and cognitive science, electrical engineering,
life sciences, mechanical engineering, and physics. Laureates will be
honored formally at a gala awards ceremony and dinner, presented by
Fleet Bank, on Thursday evening, April 29, 2004, at The Franklin
Institute, in Philadelphia. The Master of Ceremonies for this
celebration will be Lester Holt. Holt is the lead anchor for daytime
news and breaking news coverage on MSNBC.

The 2004 Franklin Institute Bower Award Laureates are: Seymour Benzer,
who will receive the esteemed Bower Award for Achievement in Science
and the accompanying $250,000 Cash Prize; and Raymond Damadian, who
will receive the Bower Award for Business Leadership. The Benjamin
Franklin Medal Laureates are Roger Bacon, Harry B. Gray, Richard
M. Karp, Robert B. Meyer, and Robert E. Newnham.

“These exceptional scientists are taking up the torch of a
180-year-old-legacy of extraordinary achievement in science and
technology,” says Wint. “Whether lifting the veil on the mysteries of
the brain, or inventing tools and technologies to help us conquer
disease and revolutionize many aspects of science, engineering, and
business, these Laureates are changing the quality of our everyday
lives. We are proud to honor these individuals as they have honored
and inspired us and generations to come through their dedication to
science.”

Meet The Laureates

The Bower Award Laureates

The 2004 Bower Award and the accompanying $250,000 Cash Prize for
Achievement in Science in the Field of Brain Research goes to
geneticist Seymour Benzer for his pioneering discoveries that both
founded and greatly advanced the field of neurogenetics, thereby
transforming our understanding of the brain. More than anyone else,
Benzer began the effort to trace the actual, physical links from genes
to behavior. Research based on these fundamental experiments is today
providing profound insights into such degenerative disorders as
Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to opening the door
to a new world of understanding about the genetic basis of brain
function and pathology, Benzer also is honored for his monumental
discoveries in molecular biology and physics early in his career.

The 2004 Bower Award for Business Leadership in the Field of Brain
Research goes to physician and inventor Raymond V. Damadian for his
development and commercialization of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
used in clinical applications. Damadian filed for a patent in 1972,
which was granted in 1974 for an “Apparatus and Method of Detecting
Cancer in Tissue”. Soon afterwards, he and his team built the first
MRI scanner and achieved the first human scan (1977), and subsequently
founded FONAR Corporation and developed the first commercial MRI
machine in 1980. MRI technology has transformed the diagnosis and
treatment of disease in our lifetime, and in doing so, created an
entirely new industry. The development and commercialization of the
MRI has given the world a Jules Verne view inside our bodies such that
even the inner workings of the brain are now within reach. Today,
thanks to Damadian’s work, more than 60 million MRIs are performed
each year around the world.

The Benjamin Franklin Medal Laureates

The Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry goes to Harry B. Gray for his
pioneering contributions to the understanding of the underlying
physics and chemistry that control electron transfer in
metalloproteins. Specifically, Gray has applied his knowledge of
inorganic chemistry to biological processes. He and his team
identified the molecular pathway by which electrons move in proteins
that contain a bound metal ion such as iron or magnesium in their
structure. Examples of metalloproteins in living cells are chlorophyll
in plants and hemoglobin in blood. Gray is an indefatigable promoter
of inorganic and biological chemistry.

The Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science goes to
Richard M. Karp for his contributions to the understanding of
computational complexity. vHis work helps programmers find workable
solution procedures to tremendously complex problems, avoiding
approaches that would fail to find a solution in a reasonable amount
of time. Scientific, commercial, or industrial situations where his
work applies include establishing least-cost schedules for industrial
production, transportation routing, circuit layout, communication
network design, and predicting the spatial structure of a protein from
its amino acid sequencing. Karp is among the world leaders in
algorithm design, analysis, and computational complexity.

The Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering goes to Robert
E. Newnham for his invention of multiphase piezoelectric transducers
and their spatial architecture, which has revolutionized the field of
acoustic imaging. Specifically, Newnham invented the composite
piezoelectric transducer, which has had exciting applications in the
fields of underwater acoustics, medical ultrasound, wireless
communications, and chemistry. He is considered one of the pioneers in
the field of electronic composites and acknowledged as the “Father of
Unified Nomenclature of Piezocomposites”.

The Benjamin Franklin Medal in Mechanical Engineering goes to Roger
Bacon for his fundamental research on the production of graphite
whiskers and the determination of their microstructure and properties,
for his pioneering development efforts in the production of the
world’s first continuously processed carbon fibers and the world’s
first high modulus, high strength carbon fibers using rayon
precursors, and for his contributions to the development of carbon
fibers from alternative starting materials. So many of today’s
products and technologies rely on high strength composites. From
sports equipment to aerospace advancements, high strength graphite is
an integral part of today’s world — a world made possible by Roger
Bacon.

The Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics goes to Robert B. Meyer for his
creative synthesis of theory and experiment demonstrating that tilted,
layered liquid crystal phases of chiral molecules are ferroelectric,
thus launching both fundamental scientific advancement in the field of
soft condensed matter physics and in the development of liquid crystal
displays that meet the demands of current technology. The application
of his work has been instrumental in the development of new
technologies including flat panel displays and optical switches
important to the modern computer and optical communication industries.

The Story of the Franklin Institute Awards Program

The long, distinguished history of The Franklin Institute Awards
Program dates back to 1824, when the Institute was founded by a group
of leading Philadelphians to train artisans and mechanics in the
fundamentals of science. Philadelphia — then the largest city in the
United States — was the nation’s innovation and manufacturing
center. In 1824, the Institute arranged the first of what became a
series of annual exhibitions of manufactured goods.

With the exhibitions came the presentation of awards — first
certificates and later endowed medals — for achievement in science
and technology. Recipients were selected by the Institute’s venerable
Committee on Science and the Arts, established in 1824 as the
Committee on Inventions. The Institute’s all-volunteer Committee still
nominates recipients of The Franklin Institute Medals. Committee
members represent academia, corporate America, and government. They
evaluate the work of nominated individuals for its uncommon insight,
skill, or creativity, as well as for its impact on future research or
application to serve humankind.

Widely regarded as the American Nobel Prizes, these awards reflect
upon the spirit of discovery embodied by Benjamin Franklin, as well as
the power of science to inspire lives and encourage future innovation
and discovery. The list of Franklin Institute medal winners reads like
a “Who’s Who” of notable Nineteenth, Twentieth, and Twenty-First
Century scientists. The list includes Alexander Graham Bell, Marie
Curie, Rudolf Diesel, Thomas Edison, Niels Bohr, Max Planck, Albert
Einstein, Jane Goodall, and Herbert Kelleher to name but a few. To
date, 101 Franklin Institute Laureates also have been honored with 103
Nobel Prizes.

The newest awards — the Bower Award for Business Leadership and the
Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science — are made possible
by a $7.5 million bequest in 1988 from Henry Bower, a Philadelphia
chemical manufacturer. The Bower Science Award carries a cash prize of
$250,000, making it one of the richest science prizes in America.

Today, The Franklin Institute continues its dedication to education
and science literacy, creating a passion for science through its
museum, outreach programs, and curatorial work. Recognizing leading
individuals from around the world is one important way that the
Institute preserves Franklin’s legacy.

Awards Week

In addition to the formal Awards Ceremony on Thursday evening,
Laureates will participate in a series of symposia to be held at local
universities during Awards Week. This year’s symposia are scheduled at
the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, Villanova
University, and the University of Delaware.

Laureates will also take part in a Meet the Scientist session on
Tuesday of Awards Week, during which hundreds of students from city
schools are invited to meet the scientists and join in a question and
answer session with them. This lively and exciting discussion presents
a rare opportunity for students to interact with some of the most
exceptional scientists in the world. Moderating the event and
interacting with these world-renowned scientists are students from
Partnerships for Achieving Careers in Technology and Science (PACTS) –
a Philadelphia-based program for minority middle- and high-school
students.

Also scheduled for Tuesday is an interactive Celebration of Science,
wherein demonstrations geared to young museum visitors highlight the
scientific concepts behind the work of this year’s Laureates.

The 2004 Franklin Institute Awards Ceremony and Dinner is generously
presented by Fleet Bank. Fleet’s lead sponsorship helps to underwrite
the extraordinary costs associated with staging the April 29, 2004
Awards Ceremony, which will be attended by more than 700 business,
civic, governmental, and education leaders. This support also provides
funds for free or reduced admissions for the 300,000 or more
schoolchildren who visit the museum each year.

Also providing support are Associate Sponsors, Centocor, Inc.;
Cephalon, Inc.; Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc.; and the Four Seasons
Hotel. In addition to their support of the formal Awards program on
Thursday evening, Cephalon, Inc. will generously underwrite the
Laureates’ Symposia and the Meet the Scientist program during Awards
Week.

For more information on the 2004 Franklin Institute Awards Program,
please call Donna Dickerson, Awards Program Director, at 215.448.1329,
or check the Institute’s web site at ,
For tickets, please call Barbara Cowan,
Director of Development Events, at 215.448.0984. To arrange for
interviews or to receive additional Laureate information and
photographs, kindly contact Evan Welsh, Public Relations Director, at
The Franklin Institute at 215.448.1176 or [email protected]; or Emily
Reynolds, Communications Manager, at 215.448.1175 or [email protected]

CONTACT: The Franklin Institute
Evan Welsh, Public Relations Director
(215) 448-1176
[email protected]

Emily Reynolds, Communications Manager
(215) 448-1175
[email protected]

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