THE BLAISE PASCAL MEDALS 2011

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Blaise Pascal Medal in Medicine and Life Sciences

Professor Peter CARMELIET, Belgium

A  particular  strength of Carmeliet work has been the use of molecular approaches with fine  and detailed studies of embryo development and in vivo pathological models. One prime example is the study by Carmeliet et al. published in Nature in 1996 on the consequence of deleting just one of the alleles for vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which results in embryonic lethality due to loss of endothelial cell differentiation and blood vessel formation. This study promoted an intense interest in the VEGF family of angiogenic growth factors, which also includes Placenta growth factor (PLGF).He  has been instrumental in the development of antibodies directed against PLGF, which neutralize its function. In mouse models, treatment with this antibody limits growth of tumors, and even more importantly, it suppresses the seeding of distant metastases. Treatment of human cancer with anti-PLGF antibodies is now being tested in clinical trials. Other important contributions by Dr. Carmeliet include his important studies on hypoxia-regulation of angiogenesis. Dr. Carmeliet has extensively promoted the development of life sciences in Europe.

Blaise Pascal Medal in Engineering

Professor Giulio MAIER, Italy

In recognition of his outstanding scientific achievements in the field of Structural Mechanics and Engineering, and his seminal activities in the same discipline. His major and most original research contributions are distributed over several different topics: mechanics of elastoplastic structures (shake-down, extremum properties of solutions, structural design optimization), non-associative flow rules, symmetric Galerkin boundary element method, quasi-brittle fracture mechanics, development of integrated computational and non-destructive experimental methods for structural diagnosis and parameter identification by inverse analysis, mechanics of composites and microsystems, structural engineering problems (tension structures, offshore pipelines, concrete dams). Member of several National Academies (Italian: Lincei, dei XL; Foreign: Poland, Hungary, Russia (Eng.), USA (Eng.), Portugal, South Africa), and recipient of numerous prestigious awards, among which: Feltrinelli (Lincei), Koiter (ASME), Ritz-Galerkin (ECCOMAS), and three Honorary Doctoral Degrees. Giulio Maier is greatly appreciated in the Engineering Community for his particular capacity in dealing with application problems by using advanced and innovative scientific methods.

Blaise Pascal Medal in Computational and Information Sciences

Professor Gordon PLOTKIN, United Kingdom

In recognition of his major contributions to theoretical computer science; in particular, for his invention of "structural operational semantics" (SOS), which is widely adopted as the standard technique for precise specification of programming languages. Operational semantics provides a formal model of the run-time behavior of computer programs, and other computational systems. Such a model is essential if we are to have precise and unambiguous definitions of programming languages. In 1981, Plotkin proposed and developed SOS as a systematic method for defining operational behavior. In the years since its inception, SOS has proven itself to be a remarkably powerful and versatile technique. It has become the standard method for formally specifying programming languages. Recently SOS has also found use in the specification of biological models, and as a means for clarifying multiprocessor behavior (where industry manuals have been found to be ambiguous). Plotkin's SOS paper has over 3,000 citations on Google Scholar, evidencing its broad impact.

Blaise Pascal Medal in Chemistry

Professor Helmut SCHWARZ, Germany

In recognition of his pioneering work using modern mass spectrometry for the disclosure of reaction mechanisms such as those of hydrocarbon activation, Professor Helmut Schwarz will receive the Blaise Pascal Medal 2011 in chemistry. He is presently one of the most outstanding scientists in Europe. His world wide reputation is based on more than 900 scientific articles that he authored or co-authored in the very best journals. His scientific achievements have been largely recognized by an impressive list of awards from many countries. In addition his role as a scientific leader is marked by his excellent presidency of the Humboldt Foundation and his board membership of the German National Academy of Science, Leopoldina.




Blaise Pascal Medal in Mathematics

Professor Karl SIGMUND, Germany

In recognition of his work on dynamical systems and modelling applied to population dynamics. In particular, he played a pioneering role in the development of evolutionary game theory, and in applying it to a large variety of problems in ecology and behaviour, as well as to social and economic models. He has been instrumental in developing the theory of replicator equations and adaptive dynamics. A large part of his work is devoted to the evolution of cooperation. In several books and a large number of papers, he has investigated, jointly with brilliant co-workers, many essential aspects of the emergence of cooperation, such as direct and indirect reciprocity, or the role of incentives in overcoming social dilemmas. Despite the spectacular contributions to mathematics,  he has been also engaged in making   important results of current research accessible to  a broad audience. He has received many honours including an Honorary Degree  from the  University of Helsinki, and memberships of the  Austrian Academy of Sciences, the  German Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina), and the  European Academy of Sciences

Blaise Pascal Medal in Materials Sciences

Professor Ruslan VALIEV, Russia

In recognition of his outstanding contribution to our understanding of the properties of bulk nanostructured materials. Prof. Valiev has done pioneering work in the field of processing of ultrafine-grained and nanostructured materials through the application of severe plastic deformation, a technique which is being undertaken in almost every materials science department worldwide. Prof. Valiev has significantly contributed to the study of mechanical and physical properties of materials introducing new concepts like the conception of “non-equilibrium grain boundaries”. With more than 2000 citations, the review of his early work published in 2000 in Progress in Materials Science, “Bulk nanostructured materials from severe plastic deformation”, is one of the most cited scientific publication in modern materials science.



Blaise Pascal Medal in Physics

Professor Peter ZOLLER, Austria

In recognition of his outstanding, pioneering and influential work at the interface between atomic physics, quantum optics, condensed matter physics and quantum information. Highlights include: the first realistic proposals for quantum computers based on trapped ions, atoms in cavities, Rydberg atoms, or cold molecules; proposals to implement quantum networks and repeaters using atoms in cavities or atomic ensembles; several important predictions, of a superfluid-Mott insulator quantum phase transition of atoms in optical lattices, of reduced fluctuations in atoms interacting with squeezed light, of the existence of auto-ionizing states in atoms subjected to strong laser fields; introduction of a new simulation method for atomic master equations, subsequently widely used in the fields of laser cooling and quantum optics; proposals for engineering quantum states of motion of trapped ions as well as quantum states of light. These have all stimulated new lines of research, theoretical, experimental and of potential practical application.