The Franklin Institute Committee on Science and the Arts Announces the Benjamin Franklin Medal and Bower Award Laureates for 2004

Raymond Damadian, Inventor of the First Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Machine, Among the Laureates Honored with America's Most Historic Science Awards -- Widely Regarded as American Nobel Prizes

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, UNITED STATES

PHILADELPHIA, March 18, 2004 (PRIMEZONE) -- The Franklin Institute's Committee on Science and the Arts, together with Institute President and CEO Dennis M. Wint, today announced the Benjamin Franklin Medal and Bower Award laureates for 2004. These preeminent scientists are being recognized for their outstanding achievements in the fields of chemistry, computer and cognitive science, electrical engineering, life sciences, mechanical engineering, and physics. Laureates will be honored formally at a gala awards ceremony and dinner, presented by Fleet Bank, on Thursday evening, April 29, 2004, at The Franklin Institute, in Philadelphia. The Master of Ceremonies for this celebration will be Lester Holt. Holt is the lead anchor for daytime news and breaking news coverage on MSNBC.

The 2004 Franklin Institute Bower Award Laureates are: Seymour Benzer, who will receive the esteemed Bower Award for Achievement in Science and the accompanying $250,000 Cash Prize; and Raymond Damadian, who will receive the Bower Award for Business Leadership. The Benjamin Franklin Medal Laureates are Roger Bacon, Harry B. Gray, Richard M. Karp, Robert B. Meyer, and Robert E. Newnham.

"These exceptional scientists are taking up the torch of a 180-year-old-legacy of extraordinary achievement in science and technology," says Wint. "Whether lifting the veil on the mysteries of the brain, or inventing tools and technologies to help us conquer disease and revolutionize many aspects of science, engineering, and business, these Laureates are changing the quality of our everyday lives. We are proud to honor these individuals as they have honored and inspired us and generations to come through their dedication to science."

Meet The Laureates

The Bower Award Laureates

The 2004 Bower Award and the accompanying $250,000 Cash Prize for Achievement in Science in the Field of Brain Research goes to geneticist Seymour Benzer for his pioneering discoveries that both founded and greatly advanced the field of neurogenetics, thereby transforming our understanding of the brain. More than anyone else, Benzer began the effort to trace the actual, physical links from genes to behavior. Research based on these fundamental experiments is today providing profound insights into such degenerative disorders as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. In addition to opening the door to a new world of understanding about the genetic basis of brain function and pathology, Benzer also is honored for his monumental discoveries in molecular biology and physics early in his career.

The 2004 Bower Award for Business Leadership in the Field of Brain Research goes to physician and inventor Raymond V. Damadian for his development and commercialization of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) used in clinical applications. Damadian filed for a patent in 1972, which was granted in 1974 for an "Apparatus and Method of Detecting Cancer in Tissue". Soon afterwards, he and his team built the first MRI scanner and achieved the first human scan (1977), and subsequently founded FONAR Corporation and developed the first commercial MRI machine in 1980. MRI technology has transformed the diagnosis and treatment of disease in our lifetime, and in doing so, created an entirely new industry. The development and commercialization of the MRI has given the world a Jules Verne view inside our bodies such that even the inner workings of the brain are now within reach. Today, thanks to Damadian's work, more than 60 million MRIs are performed each year around the world.

The Benjamin Franklin Medal Laureates

The Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry goes to Harry B. Gray for his pioneering contributions to the understanding of the underlying physics and chemistry that control electron transfer in metalloproteins. Specifically, Gray has applied his knowledge of inorganic chemistry to biological processes. He and his team identified the molecular pathway by which electrons move in proteins that contain a bound metal ion such as iron or magnesium in their structure. Examples of metalloproteins in living cells are chlorophyll in plants and hemoglobin in blood. Gray is an indefatigable promoter of inorganic and biological chemistry.

The Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science goes to Richard M. Karp for his contributions to the understanding of computational complexity. His work helps programmers find workable solution procedures to tremendously complex problems, avoiding approaches that would fail to find a solution in a reasonable amount of time. Scientific, commercial, or industrial situations where his work applies include establishing least-cost schedules for industrial production, transportation routing, circuit layout, communication network design, and predicting the spatial structure of a protein from its amino acid sequencing. Karp is among the world leaders in algorithm design, analysis, and computational complexity.

The Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering goes to Robert E. Newnham for his invention of multiphase piezoelectric transducers and their spatial architecture, which has revolutionized the field of acoustic imaging. Specifically, Newnham invented the composite piezoelectric transducer, which has had exciting applications in the fields of underwater acoustics, medical ultrasound, wireless communications, and chemistry. He is considered one of the pioneers in the field of electronic composites and acknowledged as the "Father of Unified Nomenclature of Piezocomposites".

The Benjamin Franklin Medal in Mechanical Engineering goes to Roger Bacon for his fundamental research on the production of graphite whiskers and the determination of their microstructure and properties, for his pioneering development efforts in the production of the world's first continuously processed carbon fibers and the world's first high modulus, high strength carbon fibers using rayon precursors, and for his contributions to the development of carbon fibers from alternative starting materials. So many of today's products and technologies rely on high strength composites. From sports equipment to aerospace advancements, high strength graphite is an integral part of today's world -- a world made possible by Roger Bacon.

The Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics goes to Robert B. Meyer for his creative synthesis of theory and experiment demonstrating that tilted, layered liquid crystal phases of chiral molecules are ferroelectric, thus launching both fundamental scientific advancement in the field of soft condensed matter physics and in the development of liquid crystal displays that meet the demands of current technology. The application of his work has been instrumental in the development of new technologies including flat panel displays and optical switches important to the modern computer and optical communication industries.

The Story of the Franklin Institute Awards Program

The long, distinguished history of The Franklin Institute Awards Program dates back to 1824, when the Institute was founded by a group of leading Philadelphians to train artisans and mechanics in the fundamentals of science. Philadelphia -- then the largest city in the United States -- was the nation's innovation and manufacturing center. In 1824, the Institute arranged the first of what became a series of annual exhibitions of manufactured goods.

With the exhibitions came the presentation of awards -- first certificates and later endowed medals -- for achievement in science and technology. Recipients were selected by the Institute's venerable Committee on Science and the Arts, established in 1824 as the Committee on Inventions. The Institute's all-volunteer Committee still nominates recipients of The Franklin Institute Medals. Committee members represent academia, corporate America, and government. They evaluate the work of nominated individuals for its uncommon insight, skill, or creativity, as well as for its impact on future research or application to serve humankind.

Widely regarded as the American Nobel Prizes, these awards reflect upon the spirit of discovery embodied by Benjamin Franklin, as well as the power of science to inspire lives and encourage future innovation and discovery. The list of Franklin Institute medal winners reads like a "Who's Who" of notable Nineteenth, Twentieth, and Twenty-First Century scientists. The list includes Alexander Graham Bell, Marie Curie, Rudolf Diesel, Thomas Edison, Niels Bohr, Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Jane Goodall, and Herbert Kelleher to name but a few. To date, 101 Franklin Institute Laureates also have been honored with 103 Nobel Prizes.

The newest awards -- the Bower Award for Business Leadership and the Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science -- are made possible by a $7.5 million bequest in 1988 from Henry Bower, a Philadelphia chemical manufacturer. The Bower Science Award carries a cash prize of $250,000, making it one of the richest science prizes in America.

Today, The Franklin Institute continues its dedication to education and science literacy, creating a passion for science through its museum, outreach programs, and curatorial work. Recognizing leading individuals from around the world is one important way that the Institute preserves Franklin's legacy.

Awards Week

In addition to the formal Awards Ceremony on Thursday evening, Laureates will participate in a series of symposia to be held at local universities during Awards Week. This year's symposia are scheduled at the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, Villanova University, and the University of Delaware.

Laureates will also take part in a Meet the Scientist session on Tuesday of Awards Week, during which hundreds of students from city schools are invited to meet the scientists and join in a question and answer session with them. This lively and exciting discussion presents a rare opportunity for students to interact with some of the most exceptional scientists in the world. Moderating the event and interacting with these world-renowned scientists are students from Partnerships for Achieving Careers in Technology and Science (PACTS) - a Philadelphia-based program for minority middle- and high-school students.

Also scheduled for Tuesday is an interactive Celebration of Science, wherein demonstrations geared to young museum visitors highlight the scientific concepts behind the work of this year's Laureates.

The 2004 Franklin Institute Awards Ceremony and Dinner is generously presented by Fleet Bank. Fleet's lead sponsorship helps to underwrite the extraordinary costs associated with staging the April 29, 2004 Awards Ceremony, which will be attended by more than 700 business, civic, governmental, and education leaders. This support also provides funds for free or reduced admissions for the 300,000 or more schoolchildren who visit the museum each year.

Also providing support are Associate Sponsors, Centocor, Inc.; Cephalon, Inc.; Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc.; and the Four Seasons Hotel. In addition to their support of the formal Awards program on Thursday evening, Cephalon, Inc. will generously underwrite the Laureates' Symposia and the Meet the Scientist program during Awards Week.

For more information on the 2004 Franklin Institute Awards Program, please call Donna Dickerson, Awards Program Director, at 215.448.1329, or check the Institute's web site at, For tickets, please call Barbara Cowan, Director of Development Events, at 215.448.0984. To arrange for interviews or to receive additional Laureate information and photographs, kindly contact Evan Welsh, Public Relations Director, at The Franklin Institute at 215.448.1176 or; or Emily Reynolds, Communications Manager, at 215.448.1175 or


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