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National Attention Focused on Science and Technology Makes Franklin Institute's Annual Celebration of Science Relevant and Timely
[April 17, 2008]

National Attention Focused on Science and Technology Makes Franklin Institute's Annual Celebration of Science Relevant and Timely

PHILADELPHIA --(Business Wire)-- This evening in Philadelphia, following a whirl-wind week of activities celebrating science and the spirit of discovery, nine individuals will be honored with Benjamin Franklin Medals and two will be presented with prestigious Bower Awards. The Franklin Institute Awards, often a precursor to the Nobel Prize, are awarded annually for outstanding achievements that have directly and positively impacted and enhanced the quality of human life and deepened our understanding of the universe.

The issue of America's competitive place in the global economy as driven by leadership in science and technology has recently attracted national attention from policy makers, business and community leaders, government officials, editors, writers and other thought leaders in this country. This makes the annual celebration of science tied to The Franklin Institute Awards particularly relevant in this election year.

The rich history and tradition of The Franklin Institute Awards Program dates back to 1824, when the Institute was established to train artisans and mechanics in the fundamentals of engineering and science. Past laureates have included Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, Stephen Hawking, Francis Crick, Jacques Cousteau, Gordon Moore and Jane Goodall. 108 Franklin laureates have won 110 Nobel prizes (2 won twice) and over 50 were recognized by The Franklin Institute prior to Nobel, often times decades before, for the same work. Spanning three centuries, this program is among the most widely known and effective awards programs in existence. Why? Because The Franklin Institute Awards Program changes lives by making science accessible and relevant to the lives of everyone, which is key to inspiring the next generation of great scientists and engineers who will invent the future.

"The future economic success of our country depends on Americans out-performing the competition with smart people and innovative ideas. These exceptional individuals and their remarkable achievements do more than continue our 184-year-old-legacy," said Dennis M. Wint, President and CEO of The Franklin Institute. "They serve as role models for our youth, helping ignite that spark of curiosity which has led to so many incredible discoveries and inventions."

The Franklin Institute celebrates science, technology and business leadership tonight by honoring the following individuals for their monumental and critical achievements:

-- Judea Pearl, receives the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science for advancing the world of artificial intelligence by allowing computers to uncover associations and connections within millions of data points.

-- Wallace Broecker, receives the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Earth and Environmental Science for developing models of how the ocean circulates, how ocean affects climate change and how climate has changed throughout history.

-- Takeo Kanade, receives the Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science in honor of a lifetime of ground-breaking contributions to robotics, which have contributed to numerous real-world applications including robotic vision, fully-realized 3-D virtual worlds from 2-D images and medical technology.

-- Deborah Jin, receives the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics for pioneering a brand new field of study in physics and creating the first coherent gas of ultra-cold fermionic atoms.

-- Victor Ambros, Gary Ruvkun and David Baulcombe receive the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science for discovering the process of gene silencing.

-- Arun Phadke and James Thorp, receive the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering for their contributions to microprocessor controllers in electric power systems that have significantly decreased the occurrence and duration of power blackouts.

-- Frederick Smith, receives the Bower Award for Business Leadership for conceiving and establishing the concept of guaranteed overnight delivery, and founding FedEx.

-- Albert Eschenmoser, receives the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry for his lifetime of research into the structures of a cell's nucleic acids, leading to the understanding of why RNA and DNA have the structure they do.

The Awards Ceremony and Dinner this evening is generously presented by Bank of America. Awards Week Sponsor and Associate Sponsor of The Franklin Institute's Awards Ceremony and Dinner is Cephalon, Inc. Host for this elegant black-tie event will be author and New York Times senior writer, Gina Kolata. Additional Associate Sponsors include Centocor, Inc., Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., Four Seasons Hotel, Marshview Associates, Don & Lauren Morel, Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC, William & Susan Shea and West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc.

The final special event associated with 2008 The Franklin Institute Awards will be a lecture and book signing by Gina Kolata on Friday, April 18th:

10:00 AM - 12 Noon - "Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss-and the Myths and Realities of Dieting," at the Patent Library of The Franklin Institute - a lecture and book signing by Host of this year's Franklin Institute Awards Ceremony, author and senior writer for The New York Times, Gina Kolata.

For high resolution photos, video profiles and further details on The Franklin Institute Awards, please visit

The 2008 Franklin Institute Award Medalists are available for interviews.

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