Renowned Biophysicist Dr. Carlos Bustamante Wins Top Prize for Immigrants in Science

Renowned Biophysicist Dr. Carlos Bustamante Wins Top Prize for Immigrants in Science

Peruvian-born Biomedical Scientist Awarded $100,000 Vilcek Prize


NEW YORK, Feb. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — Dr. Carlos Bustamante, Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, was named the recipient of the 2012 Vilcek Prize for Biomedical Science. Awarded annually, the prize honors foreign-born scholars with a lifetime record of achievement and innovation. Dr. Bustamante was cited for his pioneering discoveries in the field of molecular biology and biophysics; most notably, he has invented tools that make it possible, for the first time, to study life-sustaining cellular processes at the level of single molecules. His methods allow for the manipulation of individual molecules that play central functions inside a cell, giving scientists deeper insight into some of the vital processes occurring inside cells. Beyond laying the groundwork for future potential treatments for life-threatening human diseases, Dr. Bustamante’s work has made possible to use ever-finer tools to observe molecular interactions inside cells.


“Dr. Bustamante’s work exemplifies the vital contributions immigrants make to science in the United States,” said Dr. Jan Vilcek, President of the Vilcek Foundation. “His research has opened entirely new fields of study and made possible new avenues of inquiry in biomedical science.”

As an immigrant from Peru, Dr. Bustamante looks for chances to create greater ties between his homeland and his adopted country. He has established a partnership between his laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, and a laboratory at his alma mater in Lima, the University Cayetano Heredia. The partnership is beneficial for both sides, allowing the burgeoning Peruvian scientific community access to some of the world’s leading scientists while tapping into the resources and talent of Peruvian laboratories. In addition, Dr. Bustamante leads a Peruvian lab in research on the agent of tuberculosis, which can become highly drug-resistant and is the cause of a significant number of deaths in Peru.

Dr. Carlos Bustamante is the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, and Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology, Physics, and Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. The Vilcek Prize is one of many honors Dr. Bustamante has received. He was named one of “America’s Best” by Time magazine in 2001, and elected a member of the National Academy of Science in 2002. He received the Biological Physics Prize by the American Physical Society in 2002, and the Alexander Hollaender Award in Biophysics from the National Academy of Science of 2004.

Also being awarded is the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science, a $25,000 prize intended to support a younger generation of foreign-born scientists. This year’s prize is awarded to Dr. Alice Ting, a Taiwanese-born investigator in the Department of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for her development of site-specific protein labeling, a method of tagging and visualizing specific proteins in a cell aimed to better understand their functions.

Dr. Bustamante and Dr. Ting were selected by juries composed of prominent biomedical scientists and experts. They will receive their prizes at an awards ceremony on April 2, 2012, in New York City. Spanish-born Dr. Joan Massague, the Alfred P. Sloan Chair of the Cancer Biology and Genetics Program at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, will be presenting the biomedical science prizes. The Vilcek Prizes for the Arts, this year presented in Dance, are awarded alongside the Vilcek Prizes for Biomedical Science. For more information, please visit

SOURCE The Vilcek Foundation

Renowned Biophysicist Dr. Carlos Bustamante Wins Top Prize for Immigrants in Science