"NOMIS is all about enabling outstanding talent to take on high-risk research."
- Georg Heinrich “Heini” Thyssen, NOMIS Founder

2019 NOMIS Distinguished Scientists

NOMIS Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Awards (NOMIS Awards) are presented to pioneering scientists and scholars who, through their innovative, groundbreaking research, have made a significant contribution to their respective fields and who inspire the world around them. Their bold ideas and unique approaches involve interdisciplinary collaboration and apply a broad range of methods, building bridges across the boundaries of disciplines. NOMIS Awards enable these exceptional, established scientists to continue exploring unconventional and uncharted research paths, thereby opening up new research fields and collaborations.

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Bing Professor of Neuroscience, Behavioral Biology, and Economics, and Head Faculty in Residence

Antonio Rangel is a 2019 NOMIS awardee and has been Bing Professor of Neuroscience, Behavioral Biology, and Economics since 2013 and head faculty in residence at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech; Pasadena, US) since 2018.

Born in Spain, Rangel earned a BS in economics from the Caltech in 1993, an MA in economics from Harvard University (Cambridge, US) in 1996, and a PhD in economics from Harvard University in 1998. He was a faculty member at Stanford University from 1998 to 2006, as well as a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research from 1999 to 2007. Rangel has previously served as the director of Caltech’s NSF-IGERT PhD Program in Behavioral and Social Neuroscience and as co-director of the Caltech Brain Imaging Center. He is the recipient of a Mentor Recognition Award from the University of California San Diego, the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching, the Allyn Young Prize for Excellence in Teaching from Harvard, and the CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation, among others.

One of the world’s leading neuroeconomists, Rangel is studying the computational and neurobiological basis of human decision making. His research focuses on understanding the algorithms that the brain uses to assign and compare values at the time of choice, and identifying the regions of the brain that implement them.His project, Using Triangulation to Characterize the Neurocomputational Basis of Simple Choice, aims to advance our understanding of the neurocomputational basis of very simple decisions, such as choosing between an apple and an orange, by comparing how rodents, monkeys and humans make these types of choices. The research is predicated on the idea that studying the same decision problem in different species will provide critical insights into how humans make simple and more complex decisions.


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Professor of neuropathology and director of the Institute of Neuropathology

Adriano Aguzzi is a 2019 NOMIS awardee and has been full professor of neuropathology and director of the Institute of Neuropathology at the University of Zurich (Zurich, Switzerland) since 1997.

Born in Pavia, Italy, Aguzzi earned an MD from the University of Freiburg Medical School (Freiburg, Germany) in 1986. Following postdoctoral studies in Vienna, he obtained the venia legendi in neuropathology at the University of Zurich in 1993. Among numerous other honors, Aguzzi has been awarded the Ernst Jung Prize, the Robert Koch Award, the EMBO Gold Medal of the European Molecular Biology Organization, the Marcel Benoist Swiss Science Prize and the Baillet Latour Health Prize, as well as two ERC Advanced Grants from the European Research Council. He holds three honorary doctorates from the Universities of Bologna, Teramo and Liège.

Aguzzi is studying the molecular basis of prion diseases (rare progressive neurodegenerative disorders), combining transgenetics with molecular and immunological techniques. His pioneering work uncovered the crucial steps in the pathogenesis of the disease, revealed the cells and molecules involved in prion neuroinvasion, and elucidated the mechanisms leading to brain damage in these diseases. Currently, Aguzzi is investigating the fundamental mechanisms of neurodegeneration. His project, Exploring the Locales of Cognitive Decline: Cellular and Molecular 3D Atlases of Brain Pathology in Aging and in Neurodegeneration, proposes combining high-content three-dimensional morphology with sophisticated fluorochrome chemistry and molecular methods of genome interrogation/perturbation. These techniques will enable the creation of detailed atlases of the cell types that drive damage in various models of neurodegeneration.

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Henry Putnam Professor of Economics and Public Affairs

Janet Currie is a 2019 NOMIS Awardee and has been the Henry Putnam Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University’s Princeton School of Public and International Affairs (Princeton, US) since 2011.

Born in Canada, Currie received a BA in economics in 1982 and an MA in economics in 1983, both at the University of Toronto, and in 1988 she earned a PhD in economics from Princeton University. She served as the first female chair of the Department of Economics at Columbia University from 2006-2009 and as the chair of the Department of Economics at Princeton University from 2014-2018. Currie co-directs Princeton’s Center for Health and Wellbeing and the Program on Children at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Currie is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Carolyn Shaw Bell Award for furthering the status of women in the economics profession, and honorary doctorates from the Universities of Zurich and Lyon. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, the Society of Labor Economists, and the Econometric Society.

Currie has demonstrated the impact of poverty and government anti-poverty policies on the health and wellbeing of children throughout the course of their lives. Continuing the focus on the health and wellbeing of children in particular, her current work addresses sources of socioeconomic differences in health and access to health care, environmental threats to health, and mental health. Currie’s research project, Harnessing Big Data to Improve Children’s Mental Health Treatment, is investigating the use of big data in identifying the therapies most promising for children with mental disorders, as well as therapies that pose the highest risk of harm. The project will use big data generated by the health care system to better understand children’s mental health, aiming to improve the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of children with mental health conditions.