Pfizer CEO Wins 2022 “Jewish Nobel” Prize

Dr. Albert Bourla will be honored in Jerusalem for his unwavering efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic

By Yossi Aloni | | Topics: Coronavirus, Genesis Prize, Albert Bourla
Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla will be awarded the Genesis Prize for his efforts to combat the Coronavirus pandemic.
Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla will be awarded the Genesis Prize for his efforts to combat the Coronavirus pandemic. Photo: EPA-EFE/JOHN THYS / POOL

The Genesis Prize Foundation has announced that Dr. Albert Bourla, Chairman and CEO of Pfizer, as the winner of the Genesis Prize for 2022. Dr. Bourla received the highest number of votes in a recently concluded global campaign in which more than 200,000 people voted from 71 countries. The public vote was unanimously approved by the Genesis Foundation’s selection committee of nine judges.

The committee praised Dr. Bourla for his leadership, determination and especially his willingness to take big risks such as when he chose to reject a federal subsidy from the US government in favor of developing the vaccine for the Coronavirus (at a cost of billions of dollars) to avoid government bureaucracy and expedite development and the production of the vaccine. As a result, Pfizer’s vaccine for COVID-19 was ready in record time: months instead of years.

In addition, the committee noted Dr. Bourla’s pride in his Jewish identity and heritage, his commitment to Jewish values and his support for the State of Israel.

The Genesis Prize, dubbed by TIME Magazine as “the Jewish Nobel Prize,” is an annual award designed to magnify the work of extraordinary people whose values and achievements are an inspiration to the next generation of the Jewish people. Every year, winners are selected on the basis of unprecedented professional achievements, their contribution to humanity, and their commitment to Jewish values. Dr. Bourla will be the ninth winner of the Genesis Award, one year after famed Hollywood director Steven Spielberg, winner of the award for 2021, and two years after human rights fighter and statesman Nathan Sharansky, winner of the award for 2020.

The President of the State of Israel, Isaac Herzog, will present the Genesis Prize to Dr. Bourla in a solemn ceremony to be held in Jerusalem on June 29, 2022.

Dr. Bourla asked the Genesis Prize Fund to award the monetary prize to Holocaust remembrance and education, with emphasis on the tragic story of the Jewish community in Greece. Dr. Bourla, who was born in Thessaloniki, Greece, grew up in a family that experienced the horrors of the Holocaust firsthand. His parents were among the last remnants of Thessaloniki’s Jewish community that was largely destroyed (out of 50,000 Thessaloniki Jews, only 2,000 survived the Holocaust). See: Remembering Jewish Ioannina: The Holocaust and Greek Jewry

Dr. Albert Bourla responded to the win:

“I did not wish to be a public figure and could not have imagined that I would one day have the honor to be a Genesis Prize winner standing in line with the other exceptional candidates. I humbly accept the award, and on behalf of my colleagues at Pfizer who have responded to the urgent call of history over the past two years and together we have managed to change the course of our shared destiny. I grew up in a Jewish family that believed that each of us was just as strong as the connections in our community and that we were all commanded from heaven to ‘repair the world’ (Tikkun Olam). I look forward to going to Jerusalem and receiving this honor which symbolizes the triumph of science and the great hope for the future.”

Co-founder and chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation, Stan Polovets:

“I am proud and excited to welcome Dr. Albert Bourla to the distinguished family of Genesis Award winners. Dr. Bourla is an example and role model for two of the most important Jewish values: the commitment to the sanctity of life and the repair of the world. And while the epidemic is far from over, millions of people are alive and well thanks to the achievements of Dr. Bourla and his staff at Pfizer.

“This is a very proud moment, not only for Dr. Bourla, but for the entire Jewish community. Such a small nation has had such a huge impact on the global effort to save lives. Dr. Bourla is one bright star within a glorious galaxy of outstanding Jewish scientists and physicians who have been at the forefront of the epidemic. We hope that these extraordinary people, and their colleagues, will join us in Jerusalem to continue to unite in our shared determination to save lives and honor our heritage.”

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