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Prof. Oded Ravefi from Uni' Tel Aviv won 2.5 million dollars for free research

Prof. Ravavi is a partner in the Polymath prize which is an "experiment in innovation based on extreme curiosity" distributed by the Schmidt Pewter Foundation founded by Eric Schmidt, one of the founders of Google

Honoring Israeli science: a new $2.5 million prize called Polymath ("man of clusters") will be awarded to researchers who have demonstrated rare interdisciplinarity. Only two scientists from all over the world won the first Polymath Award: Prof. Jeff Gore from MIT - and Prof. Oded Ravavi from the Department of Neurobiology at the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences and the Segol School of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University. The two scientists will receive, each separately, an annual grant of $500,000 over five years - to be used for "free" (unrestricted) research, in any direction. "I am proud to have been chosen, and excited by the opportunity given to me to open up new research directions," says Prof. Ravavi. "Scientists usually receive funds to continue processes that have already started. The Polymath Prize is different, they say: 'Here are the resources, do something completely new, take a risk. You will explore crazy ideas that you would never dream of offering to others."

The philanthropic foundation Schmidt Futures, will be founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt from their personal money. Eric Schmidt served as Google's CEO in its formative years from 2001 to 2011, and then served as Google's chairman until 2015. Schmidt founded and funds the award whose purpose is to give interdisciplinary researchers in particular the means to further expand the scope of their research. In the future, the foundation plans to establish a prestigious network of program graduates. "This is an experiment in innovation that is based on extreme curiosity," it says on behalf of the program. "Instead of betting on research proposals, our program bets on people".

Micro RNA, epigenetics and the hidden scrolls

The laboratory of the winner of the first Polymath Prize, Prof. Oded Ravavi, is beneficial for promoting interdisciplinary research. In recent years, Prof. Ravavi has researched a very wide range of topics and reached scientific breakthroughs in fields that are not necessarily related to each other: for example, Ravavi revealed a mechanism that enables the inheritance of acquired traits, showed for the first time that small RNAs are passed along with DNA, and explained the laws of inheritance the epigenetics. In another study, Ravavi and his partners assisted in deciphering the buried scrolls with the help of the ancient DNA stored in the skin on which they were written, in order to learn more about the history of the end of the Second Temple.; Ravavi and his team also studied the neurological basis for irrationality and found a simple law that allows the nervous system of worms to be changed so that they are more or less rational. In a completely different field, the group of vehicles is genetically engineering parasites to turn them into protein-secreting machines to enable the repair of genetic diseases in the nervous system.

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