Today is a very special day for at least one person. And that´s why I chosed him for this day person I admire. President Barack Obama named Ján T. Vilček, MD, PhD, a recipient of the prestigious National Medal of Technology and Innovation and gave him this price today, 1.2.2013.
"I´m proud to honor these inspiring American innovators," President Obama said in a statement released by the White House. "They represent the ingenuity and imagination that has long made this Nation great - and they remind us of the enormous impact a few good ideas can have when these creative qualities are unleashed in an entrepreneurial enviroment."
National Medal of Technology and Innovation is the nation´s highest honor for technological achivement, bestowed by the president of the United States on America´s leading innovators, who have made lasting contributions to America´s competitiveness and quality of life.
And why am I mentionig this? Well, because Dr. Vilček is a first Slovak who won this price and another prove of an often repressed fact that also in a such a small piece of land the greatest peolpe can by born.
Ján Vilček was born 17. June 1933 in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia). As a child he experienced World War II.. Slovak National Uprising and two years until the end of a war in a house of a very brave Slovak couple hidden with his, originally Jewish, family. Then they moved back to Bratislava.
|Vilcek prize has a marvelous design|
In 1957 he completed a medical school. He joined the Institute of Virology, Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava as a research scientist. He was succesful in his work, married a Marica Vilček but the socialitic regime didn´t fit him. Both emigrated to the USA in 1956 where he joined NYU School of Medicine as a Assistant Professor of Microbiology.
Vilček is being recognized for his pioneering work on interferons and contributions to the develoment of therapeutic monoclonal antobodies. His work was instrumental in the developmet of the anti - inflammatory drug Remicade, now widely used for the treatment of, for example, Crohn´s disease but the most famos - arthiris. About 2 million patients have been cured thanks to this medicine.
But the great oeuvre hasn´t ended here. Vilček and his wife, an art historian, founded the Vilcek Foundation in 2000 which apprize another immigrats who contribute the professional, academic and artistic life in the US. In 2005 he donated 105 million dollars to NYU School of Medicine for research. In 2010 he was awarded the Slovakia Goodwill Ambrassador in Bratislava, as a Slovak who has made significant contributions while living aboard.
If you are interested watch this great video. It´s in Slovak with English subtitles :)
"Study of a certain problem is actually never really finished. Every finding opens new questions."
Dr. Ján T. Vilček