Arthur Winfree Prize

The Arthur T. Winfree Prize was established in memory of Arthur T. Winfree’s contributions to mathematical biology. Winfree was one of the legendary figures in the field, one of the very few who combined brilliant theory with imaginative and masterful experiments. His pioneering work in biological periodicity and pattern formation built a foundation for current research. Winfree’s genius was frequently hidden by his modest, even self-effacing manner. Beyond his scientific contributions, he was an exemplary scientist and human being.

The objective of the Arthur T. Winfree Prize is to honor a theoretician whose research has inspired significant new biology. Nominations of individuals to be considered for the prize may focus on a single paper or series of papers which illustrate the close connection between theory and experiments, or may be based upon a larger body of theoretical work produced by the individual which has led to significant new biological understanding affecting observation/experiments. The recipient is decided by the [Awards Committee] of the Society for Mathematical Biology.

The award recipient will receive a cash award of $500 and a certificate at the award ceremony in the Annual Meeting of the Society. They are also expected to give a talk at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Mathematical Biology.

Recipients of the Arthur Winfree Prize

2021 – Leah Edelstein-Keshet, University of British Columbia

Bio: LEK received her PhD in Applied Mathematics (1982) from the Weizmann Institute of Science under the supervision of Prof Lee A Segel. Leah’s husband, Joshua Keshet, is also a former student of Lee Segel, and their two sons, who enjoyed math puzzles and chess as kids, are now software engineers. Leah is a professor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of British Columbia (since 1989). She served as president of the Society for Mathematical Biology (1995-97), as editorial board member of several journals (J Theoretical Biology, Biophysics J, Molecular Biology of the Cell, and others), and as Scientific Advisory Board member of several institutes of Systems Biology and Complex Systems. She has enjoyed writing several books, including “Mathematical Models in Biology” (now in the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics “Classics” Series). Her latest and upcoming books are self-published and open access.

2019 – Arthur Sherman, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Bio: I was educated as an applied mathematician at New York University’s Courant Institute, under the mentorship of Charlie Peskin.   Immediately thereafter, in 1986, I began work on pancreatic beta-cell dynamics with John Rinzel at the NIH and Joel Keizer from UC Davis.  Most of what I know about biology I learned through on-the-job training, courtesy of those mentors and colleagues on the experimental side, who were very patient with my ignorance and naivete during those early years.  Beta cells, particularly oscillations in calcium, electrical activity, and metabolism, were my main focus for the next 25 years, with the main product the Integrated Oscillator Model.  The IOM explains how electrical and metabolic oscillations work together to produce the great variety of activity patterns observed in beta cells.  In the last 10 years, my work has turned to modeling the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes.  I am hopeful that we can make meaningful contributions to the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes.  We can already explain with our model aspects of diabetes phenomenology that are well known empirically but poorly understood, such as why insulin increases before glucose, and why prevention is easier than cure.  This has afforded us the opportunity to bring to bear dynamical ideas about threshold and bistability, which are commonplace among theoreticians but not yet widely appreciated among clinicians.

2017 – Philip K. Maini, University of Oxford
2015 – John Rinzel, New York University
2013 – Leon Glass, McGill University
2011 – John Tyson, Virginia Tech
2009 – George Oster, University of California, Berkeley

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