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

I received my doctorate from the University of Oxford in 1985 under the supervision of Prof J.D. Murray, FRS. My first faculty position was as an Assistant Professor in the Mathematics Department at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City. I returned to Oxford in 1990 as a University Lecturer and in 1998 was appointed Professor of Mathematical Biology by Recognition of Distinction and Director of the Wolfson Centre for Mathematical Biology. In 2005 I was appointed Inaugural Statutory Professor of Mathematical Biology. I have worked in a number of areas in developmental biology, wound healing and cancer modelling. My work ranges from the theoretical analysis of models through to close collaboration with experimental groups in using modelling to suggest experiments. Some recent work has focussed on modelling the migration of cranial neural crest cells, a powerful paradigm for collective cell movement, in which we have used hybrid agent-based modelling to provide new insights into the biology. We have also been working on phenotypic cooperation as a possible mechanism for enabling cancer cell invasion, through the use of coupled systems of degenerate nonlinear partial differential equations. Full details of all my research are on my personal website:

2015 – John Rinzel, New York University

John Rinzel’s research is in the biophysical mechanisms and theoretical foundations of dynamic neural computation. With a background in engineering (BS: Univ of Florida, 1967) and applied mathematics (PhD: Courant Institute, NYU, 1973) he uses mathematical models to understand how neurons and neural circuits generate and communicate with electrical and chemical signals for physiological function.  John especially relishes developing reduced, but biophysically-based, models that capture a neural system’s essence. Before joining New York University’s faculty (jointly appointed in the Center for Neural Science and the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences) in 1997, he was in the Mathematical Research Branch at the NIH for nearly 25 years, most of that time as Branch Chief.   John directs his group in computational modeling, electrophysiological and psychophysical experiments.  John is a SIAM Fellow (2013); he received the Arthur T Winfree Prize (Society for Mathematical Biology, 2015).  In 2019, he was awarded the Mathematical Neuroscience Prize (Israel Brain Technologies) and the Swartz Prize for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience (Society for Neuroscience).  

    Recent research involves analysis and neural mechanisms of: perceptual bistability, beat/rhythm generation, gamma oscillations, spiking modes – shared and distinct among cells across brain regions.

2013 – Leon Glass, McGill University
2011 – John Tyson, Virginia Tech
2009 – George Oster, University of California, Berkeley

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