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Moderna’s Tal Zaks Recipient of Ben-Gurion Award

Moderna’s Tal Zaks Recipient of Ben-Gurion Award

November 22, 2020

Leadership, Awards & Events, Press Releases

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) honored individuals who have made significant contributions in the spirit of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, including Moderna Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tal Zaks.

Moderna Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Tal Zaks

An M.D., Ph.D. graduate of BGU, Dr. Zaks is spearheading the vaccine research effort for Moderna, which just announced that its mRNA-1273 coronavirus vaccine is 94.5% effective. It will be available in the U.S. and Israel, pending further study and approvals.

Originally from Ra’anana, Israel, Zaks moved to the United States in 1996 and first worked on cancer research at the National Institutes of Health. He joined the Boston-based Moderna in 2015.

The award ceremony is held annually on Ben-Gurion Day, an Israeli holiday marking David Ben-Gurion’s death. Ben-Gurion was a founder of Israel and its first prime minister, as well as the namesake of the University.

Click here to view the virtual ceremony, which was held on Sunday, November 22, 2020.

“All eyes around the world are focused on the critical work that Ben-Gurion University alumnus Dr. Tal Zaks is overseeing at Moderna to eradicate this coronavirus pandemic,” says American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Chief Executive Officer Doug Seserman.

“There is no better example of David Ben-Gurion’s vision to share Israel’s resources and brain power with the world than the success being achieved by Dr. Zaks at Moderna. We congratulate him and are proud he is a recipient of the prestigious Ben-Gurion Award.”

“David Ben-Gurion’s vision continues to resonate strongly with these award winners,” says BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz. “We recognize their unique contributions – scientific breakthroughs alongside community action. Those were Ben-Gurion’s values, and they are our values.”

In August 2020, Americans for Ben-Gurion University met with Dr. Zaks to discuss Moderna’s progress in the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, and how his education at BGU’s Joyce and Irving Goldman Medical School shaped his career.

Dr. Zaks shared his insight and optimism about the reality of a vaccine becoming available by early 2021. Click on the image below to watch the webinar in its entirety.

Read More About Tal Zaks in The Forward >>


By supporting a world-class academic institution that not only nurtures the Negev, but also shares its expertise locally and globally, Americans for Ben-Gurion University engages a community of Americans who are committed to improving the world. David Ben-Gurion envisioned that Israel’s future would be forged in the Negev. The cutting-edge research carried out at Ben-Gurion University drives that vision by sustaining a desert Silicon Valley, with the “Stanford of the Negev” at its center. The Americans for Ben-Gurion University movement supports a 21st century unifying vision for Israel by rallying around BGU’s remarkable work and role as an apolitical beacon of light in the Negev desert.

About Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev embraces the endless potential we have as individuals and as a commonality to adapt and to thrive in changing environments. Inspired by our location in the desert, we aim to discover, to create, and to develop solutions to dynamic challenges, to pose questions that have yet to be asked, and to push beyond the boundaries of the commonly accepted and possible.

We are proud to be a central force for inclusion, diversity and innovation in Israel, and we strive to extend the Negev’s potential and our entrepreneurial spirit throughout the world. For example, the multi-disciplinary School for Sustainability and Climate Change at BGU leverages over 50 years of expertise on living and thriving in the desert into scalable solutions for people everywhere.

BGU at a glance:  

20,000 students | 800 senior faculty | 3 campuses | 6 faculties: humanities & social sciences, health sciences, engineering sciences, natural sciences, business & management, and desert research.


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James Fattal, J Cubed Communications


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