Who are the 2020 Dan David Prize laureates?

Written on |

From the preservation of African American history to Artificial Intelligence, the Dan David Prize honors innovators in a range of important fields

The internationally renowned Dan David Prize, headquartered at Tel Aviv University, annually awards three prizes of US $1 million each to globally inspiring individuals and organizations, honoring outstanding contributions that expand knowledge of the past, enrich society in the present, and promise to improve the future of our world. The total purse of US $3 million makes the prize not only one of the most prestigious, but also one of the highest-value prizes internationally. This year’s fields are Cultural Preservation and Revival (Past category), Gender Equality (Present category), and Artificial Intelligence (Future category).

The Laureates 

Cultural Preservation and Revival (Past Category)



Lonnie G. Bunch III was the founding director of the Smithsonian’s inspiring National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., which constitutes the most comprehensive and significant project toward the preservation of the full sweep of African American history and its impact on American and world history. With over 40,000 exhibits, the museum has been critically praised for its clear-sighted, unflinching portrayal of the African American experience. An influential curator and prolific author, Bunch serves today as the Smithsonian’s 14th Secretary – the first historian and first African-American to be appointed to this position. 



Prof. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett is a distinguished scholar of Performance studies and Jewish Studies at New York University, who led the development of the core exhibition of POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, winner of the 2016 European Museum of the Year Award. The museum is a hub for Jewish historical preservation in Warsaw, tracing the 1000-year history of Polish Jews, in an effort to re-animate a vibrant and culturally rich vanished Jewish world, which she has spent a lifetime exploring – telling the story literally where it took place. 


Gender Equality (Present Category)


Prof. Debora Diniz is the Deputy Director of the Rights and Justice Unit for the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region, where she oversees strategies to promote and protect gender equality, sex, and reproductive rights and health, and to eliminate violence against women and girls in Latin America and the Caribbean region. Her ongoing contributions span her work in sexual and reproductive health rights, social protection, and reframing the Zika virus in relation to social and racial inequalities.


Prof. Gita Sen is a pioneering feminist scholar, researcher, and advocate. For decades, she has worked expansively in the fields of population policies, reproductive and sexual health, women’s rights, poverty, labor markets and global governance, combining her academic career with policy advocacy and activism. Her innovative research on disadvantaged populations in low income rural settings, together with her mentorship of young scholars and advocates, has made a significant impact on the field. 


Artificial Intelligence (Future Category)


Dr. Demis Hassabis is a pioneer of artificial intelligence and a widely-cited neuroscientist. He is the co-founder and CEO of DeepMind, one of the world’s leading AI research companies, which seeks to combine insights from neuroscience and machine learning with the latest developments in computer hardware, to construct a mechanism for general-purpose learning – ‘artificial general intelligence.’ To date, DeepMind has published nearly 1,000 papers – including multiple Nature and Science publications – and achieved groundbreaking results in challenging AI domains, from self-learning algorithms playing strategy games at a “superhuman” level (DQN and AlphaGo), to protein folding and medical applications.


Prof. Amnon Shashua is a machine learning and computer vision researcher at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His work and insights formed the seeds of several startups he has co-founded over the years, including Mobileye (acquired by Intel Corp. in 2017), which develops AI to enable driving assistance systems and autonomous driving technology – to date, more than 55 million cars throughout the world are equipped with Mobileye systems; and OrCam, which harnesses computer vision and natural language processing to assist the visually and hearing impaired. 

About the Dan David Prize

The Dan David Prize was established by the late Dan David, an international businessman and philanthropist whose vision is the driving force behind the international Dan David Prize. His aim was to reward those who have made a lasting impact on society and to help young students and entrepreneurs become the scholars and leaders of the future. 

Previous Dan David Prize laureates include cellist Yo-Yo Ma (2006); former US Vice President Al Gore (2008); novelist Margaret Atwood (2010); filmmakers Ethan and Joel Coen (2011); distinguished economist and recent Nobel Laureate, Esther Duflo (2013); and discoverer of the breast cancer gene, Professor Mary-Claire King (2018).

The laureates donate 10% of their award money to scholarships for graduate or post-graduate researchers in their respective fields.

Ariel David, director of the Dan David Foundation and son of the prize founder, said: “We are very proud of the unique model the Dan David Prize takes in turning the spotlight on endeavors that often do not fall under traditional prize categories, yet result in outstanding contributions to humanity that define who we are and shape our future.” The Prize’s unique model implements a ‘roving’ formula that rewards achievements in all fields of human endeavor, rather than in a fixed set of categories, and every year, a new theme is selected for each of the three time categories – past, present, and future. 

The six laureates will be honored at the 2020 Dan David Prize Award Ceremony, to be held in Tel Aviv in May 2020.

Related posts

BOG 2022: TAU Inaugurates Koret Center for Jewish Civilization

May 16, 2022

BOG 2022: TAU Inaugurates Sylvan Adams Sports Center

May 14, 2022

BOG 2022: TAU Awards Honorary Degrees to Change-Making Cohort

May 13, 2022

BOG 2022: Nine Winners Receive Reimagined Dan David Prize

May 12, 2022

This Week: TAU Welcomes Governors to Annual Meeting

May 10, 2022

On Israel’s Independence Day, TAU Celebrates Breakthroughs

May 3, 2022

New Collaborations between TAU and Leading Turkish Universities

April 29, 2022

TAU Launches Manufacturing Research Center in India

April 13, 2022

Strengthening Local Leadership in Israel

April 5, 2022

First Israeli Research Book Published in Abu Dhabi

April 3, 2022

TAU Welcomes Ukrainian Emergency Fellowship Students

March 31, 2022

Prof. Ehud Gazit – First Israeli to Receive Prestigious International Recognition in Chemistry

March 31, 2022

From War in Ukraine to Studies at TAU

March 20, 2022

TAU Special Briefing: Crisis in Ukraine

March 8, 2022

Investment in Social Funds Leads to a Reduction in Charitable Donations

March 7, 2022

TAU Launches Emergency Fellowship Fund for Ukrainian Graduate Students

March 3, 2022

The New Dan David Prize Announces Inaugural Cohort of Winners

March 2, 2022

Prof. Oded Lipschits Awarded the 2022 EMET Prize in Archaeology

February 21, 2022

And Let There Be Light

February 6, 2022

More than 16,000 participants on TAU’s Open Day 2022

February 2, 2022

The Magnificent TAU Trees

January 16, 2022

For the 1st time at an Israeli university: Air and Space Power Center

January 4, 2022

First Anniversary of Morocco-USA-Israel Agreement

December 28, 2021

TAU Students Racing Towards a Greener Campus

December 21, 2021

TAU and Goethe University Establish Joint Center for Interfaith Studies

December 19, 2021

TAU Ventures Raises $50M to Boost Israeli Startups

December 12, 2021

Coexistence – Israel’s Inevitable Faith

December 6, 2021


November 30, 2021

Tel Aviv University and Rutgers University Strengthen Ties

November 29, 2021

TAU’s Tisch Film School Among Global Best

November 29, 2021

TAU 8th in World for Entrepreneurship

November 29, 2021

Climate Action: From Campus to Glasgow

November 26, 2021

TAU: First Israeli University to Launch Online MBA

November 18, 2021

Feeling at Home in Tanzania

November 13, 2021

Revisiting the Tel Aviv Zoo

November 12, 2021

TAU Initiates Model for Carbon Neutrality

November 11, 2021

Britain and Israel Team Up on Challenge of Healthy Ageing

November 10, 2021

Meet the New Academic Power Couple

November 10, 2021

TAU Launches Cutting-Edge Center for Innovation Labs

November 3, 2021

From Law and Education to Nursing

November 3, 2021

394 TAU Researchers Among World’s Top 100,000

October 31, 2021

TAU 5th in World for Entrepreneurship

October 28, 2021

Israel-Indian academic ties boosted by visit of Indian Minister of External Affairs

October 26, 2021

“In Wars, there are Winners and Losers. In Peace, Everyone Wins”

October 20, 2021

This Week: TAU Board of Governors Meeting 2021

October 11, 2021

Be My Guest

September 19, 2021

Prof. Isaac Ben-Israel Receives the IEEE Leadership Award

August 13, 2021

See You at Naftali

July 22, 2021

Digital Learning: TAU 1st in Israel According to International Ranking

July 12, 2021

Celebrating 20 Years of Gender Studies

June 16, 2021

Pursuing the Unknown

Copyright ©  Tel Aviv University Trust. All rights reserved.
Registered charity number 314179.