Selected Fields 2012



Biography is an important sub-discipline of history.  Every progressive society makes room for achievement and excellence. Since ancient times, this has been done by immortalizing the names of heroes, role models and influential people whose examples are to be copied by younger generations. Plutarch (A.D.C 46-120) reputed as the father of biography, summarized the need for biography in a few words. “The first impulse to write biography” he said, “arose from the moral desire to hold up for public example the lives and character of illustrious persons in order to extol the virtues to be emulated and the vices to be eschewed.”

British diplomat and author Harold Nicolson (1886-1968) placed biography within the realm of literature. He saw biography simply as the “the lives of individual men as a branch of literature.” This trend was followed by French writer Andre Maurois (1885- 1967) who has been rated as one of the best modern biographers. Maurois defined biography as “an art combining pure history, pure fiction and pure science.”This form of biography seeks to “transform through literary style the truthful record of fact into the truthful effect of a life being lived.” Barbara Kruger put it this way: “I think that every so-called history book and film biography should be prefaced by the statement that what follows is the author's rendition of events and circumstances”. Among the many different types of biographies, the critical biography stands out distinct. This form of biography offers a genuine presentation of a life. Its major strength is the meticulousness involved in its research. Products of critical biographies are carefully researched sources. It is this scientific approach involved in the writing of critical biography that sets it apart from others. Collier’s Encyclopedia insists that such works are “scrupulously set forth in notes, appendices, bibliographies, inferences and conjecture.” Furthermore, “no fictional devices or manipulations of material are permitted and there is chronological presentation.” 

Aware of a significant number of first class biographies of major historical figures published in the past few years, the Board of the Dan David Prize has decided on History/Biography as the selected field within the Past Time Dimension for the 2012 Dan David Prize. The Dan David Prize will be awarded to a biographer whose work has cast new light on the life of a historical figure and his times.



The fields of painting, sculpture, photography, video art and installation, individually or in combination, some of which are ancient and some contemporary, offer human life a dimension of extra value, which is not confined to the reality of actual material, whether corporeal, physical, social or  political. The free zone of art may transgress actual borders to express imagination and fantasy, and it may disregard difference and dissension to exhibit wholeness and integrity. Art is not obliged to pay respect to confining boundaries, walls and locked gates which abound in our lives and experienced reality. It strives to arrive at new knowledge and experience; experimenting with materials and images to arrive at new ways of seeing and thinking.

Art affords the human spirit an opportunity to realize its sense of humanness and transcendence in all its aspects and performances: in sublime joy and deep grievance, in celebratory hope and deadly despair, in cold criticism and exuberant enthusiasm.

Works of art have the power to project a voice which may impact real life. Artists and their works have presented human society, over history and contemporarily, with a mirror and a lamp with which to regard itself, and an opportunity for self reflection in a manner which is liberated from stereotypes of identity and location, and from fixated conventional values. Thus, in its moments of grace and courage, art may significantly transform and revolutionize not merely its own history and tradition, but also the self concept of human beings and their self recognition: of the value of their actions, their thoughts and the significance of their lived presence in the world.

The 2012 Dan David Prize in the Present Time Dimension will be awarded to an active artist in one of the fields of painting, sculpture, photography, video art or installation, or a combination thereof,   who has a significant body of work, and whose work expresses the capacity of art to inspire and inscribe human consciousness with its unique imprint.



Genetics is one of several factors that determine the risk to develop most common diseases including the most devastating ones. A high-quality version of the human genome sequence is therefore an essential prerequisite to elucidate the precise role of genetic factors in eliciting such diseases. The successful completion of the Human Genome Project provided a solution and opened new horizons for better well-being.

One of the major challenges of contemporary genome research is to apply and utilize the enormous information available to us on the genome of humans and of other organisms in order to improve global public health by predicting disease in healthy individuals, by individualized medicine, and by creating novel forms of therapeutics. Our perception of the human genome and those of other organisms and our knowledge and understanding of ways to manipulate them provide exciting new approaches for the generation of novel sources of food and energy.

The 2012 Dan David Prize will honor an individual who significantly contributed to our knowledge and understanding of genomic structure and organization and/or who provided significant and pioneering discoveries in the emerging field of synthetic genomics.