UNESCO announces winners of 2017 International Research in the Life Sciences Prize

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, has announced the laureates of the UNESCO–Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences for 2017.

The Prize-winners are:

Agricultural Research Organization (Volcani Center, Israel)

The institute has successfully developed cutting-edge innovations and methodologies in agricultural research with practical applications as well as capacity building programmes to promote food security in arid, semi-arid and desert environments, advancing human well-being.

Rui Luis GONçALVES dos REIS (University of Minho, Portugal)

For his outstanding innovative contributions to the development and engineering of natural-based biomaterials and their biomedical applications including tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, stem cells and drug delivery, which have a significant potential to improve human health.

Ivan Antonio IZQUIERDO (Biomedical Research Institute, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil)

For his seminal discoveries in elucidating the mechanisms of memory processes including consolidation and retrieval and their clinical applications in aging, psychological disturbances and neurodegenerative diseases leading to the promotion of the quality of human life.

Recommendations for the Prize-winners were made by an international jury of renowned experts in the life sciences, including:


  • Prof. Wagida Anwar, Director of the Ain Shams University Center for Molecular Biology, Biotechnology and Genomics, Cairo, Egypt;
  • Prof. Indrani Karunasagar, Director of the UNESCO MIRCEN for Marine Biotechnology, Mangalore, India;
  • Dr. Constantinos Phanis, Specialist in Biological and Environmental Sciences, Ministry of Education and Culture, Cyprus;
  • Prof. Vincent Titanji, Honorary Dean and Former Vice-Chancellor, Biotechnology Unit, University of Buea, Cameroon; and
  • Prof. Pathmanathan Umaharan, Director, Cocoa Research Centre, University of the West Indies, Trinidad.

Each of the three laureates will receive a statue made by the artist Leandro Mbomio Nsue, a diploma and a cheque for $100,000.  An award ceremony will take place at the Grand Hotel Djibloho, Djibloho (Equatorial Guinea) on 4 December 2017.

The UNESCO–Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences rewards the outstanding scientific research projects of individuals, institutions or other entities working in the life sciences that have led to an improvement in the quality of human life. This is the fourth time it has been awarded.


More information on the Prize

Media contact: Roni Amelan, UNESCO Press Service,