Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, molecular and developmental biologist.
The Vilcek Foundation awarded Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado for his contributions to regeneration. Photo: Newswire.

The Vilcek Foundation awards $100,000 to Venezuelan molecular biologist

Venezuelan molecular and developmental biologist Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado has made strides in the study of regeneration.


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Because every language is an interpretation of the universe, the more interpretations one has access to, the richer our comprehension of the world becomes,” said Venezuelan molecular biologist Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, when talking about his work.

The Vilcek Foundation, which since 2000 has awarded more than $7 million in prizes to foreign-born individuals and supported organizations with more than $6 million in grants, recently presented a $100,000 award to Sánchez Alvarado.

Jan Vilcek, president and CEO of the foundation, said:

Through the combination of rigorous research and new tools and technologies, Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado has worked to illuminate the important functions that epigenetics and signaling have on the process of regeneration.

About the awards

Awarded annually since 2006, The Vilcek Foundation Awards recognize and celebrate the contributions of immigrants to scientific research and discovery, and artistic and cultural advancement in the United States.

The awards provide direct support to immigrant scientists and artists and help create greater public awareness around the value of immigration to a strong society.

In 2023, The Vilcek Foundation awards four prizes in Biomedical Sciences, including the Vilcek Prize of $100,000, received by Sánchez Alvarado, and three prizes of $50,000.

“His work has important implications on the understanding of cellular and organismal regeneration, and holds enormous promise for our further understanding of core biological concepts,” added Vilcek.

Who is Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado?

Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Sánchez Alvarado grew up using the scientific method to understand the things that fascinated him in the natural world.

Sánchez Alvarado, who moved to the United States to pursue molecular biology at Vanderbilt, is now a leader in the field of regeneration, serving as the Stowers Institute's Executive Director and Scientific Director for Medical Research in Kansas City, Missouri.

The molecular and developmental biologist acknowledges that being an immigrant and being bilingual had a profound impact on his work as a scientist, pointing out how syntactic interpretations of problems or ideas in two different languages, English and Spanish, help him form more nuanced ideas and hypotheses.

Sánchez Alvarado also emphasized the sacrifices immigrants make to pursue the subjects and work they are passionate about in the sciences.

“We left everything behind to pursue an idea. [We were] not looking for fame or fortune. [We] are looking for answers to questions,” he stressed.

Rick Kinsel, president of The Vilcek Founation said: “Research Institutions in the United States have drawn scientists from around the globe, and many groundbreaking discoveries in research and development in biology, physics, and medicine have been by immigrant scientists. The perspective and insight that foreign-born scientists bring to research and development, and the value of diversity in seeking answers to science and medicine's most perplexing questions, cannot be overstated.”


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