The prolific philanthropist Lyda Hill is bankrolling a $2.5 million program to help top Texas scientists advance pioneering research that could have a meaningful impact on science and society.
The Hill Prizes, announced Wednesday, will award $500,000 each to recipients in five categories: medicine, engineering, biological sciences, physical sciences, and technology.
Funded by Dallas-based Lyda Hill Philanthropies, the prizes “will recognize exceptional innovators by providing seed funding to advance groundbreaking science,” according to a news release. They’ll also “help bridge the path from research to business development and further innovations that need additional funding for greater impact.”
High-risk, high-reward research and ideas as well as innovations demonstrating significant potential for real-world impact will be funded, the release said.
The Hill Prize finalists and recipients will be selected by a committee of members of TAMEST, short for the Texas Academy of Medicine, Engineering, Science and Technology. The academy, founded in 2004, has more than 335 members, nine Nobel Laureates, and 22 member-institutions.
Applications for the prizes will open on June 27 and close on Aug. 11, and the winners will be announced and recognized on Feb. 5, 2024, at TAMEST’s annual conference in Austin.
According to the prizes’ application guide, hopefuls in the medicine, engineering, biological sciences, and physical sciences categories—all of which are open to academic and medical institutions—must have gained their first independent faculty appointment at least 15 years ago.
Applicants in the technology category—open to researchers in the private sector in applied sciences and engineering—must have at least 25 years of experience after their first industry-affiliated appointment.
All applicants must be based in Texas.
Hill, the granddaughter of the legendary Dallas oil billionaire H.L. Hunt, has pledged to give away her entire fortune to charity. Among the many causes and institutions she’s helped fund so far are The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and Dallas’ biotech-oriented Pegasus Park office development, Center for BrainHealth, and Perot Museum of Nature and Science.
Recently she collaborated on a $4 million investment to commercialize biomedical discoveries at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
“Our organization is committed to funding game-changing advances in science and nature, and that is exactly what the Hill Prizes’ mission is,” Hill said in a statement. “By accelerating big ideas through direct research funding, we know the Hill Prizes will help transform the research landscape in Texas and create marketable outcomes from our state’s best scientists.”
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