China 2008: Zahra Zakeri (Special Award)
Moving from virology to apoptosis and back again, Zahra Zakeri has been the first to spot many breakthroughs in the field of cell death, including the activation of myc and fos in apoptosis; the importance of autophagy in cell death; and the interplay in which viruses and cells compete to control apoptosis to achieve their goals. However, this award, to Dr. Zakeri as “Ambassador in Science” salutes her ability to bring people together. She has done this by bringing together many collaborators, whether with herself or introducing other scientists whose common purpose she has identified.
On a larger scale, she was a prime motivator to initiate the Gordon Conference on Cell Death, and the energy behind the foundation of the International Cell Death Society and Scientists Without Frontiers. The ICDS has grown remarkably since she founded it in 19??, and through Scientists Without Frontiers she has taken meetings and scientists to countries that otherwise have not had access to Western science; has introduced visiting and host scientists to each other; and has arranged collaborations and exchanges among them. Within this framework she has also built strong support for young scientists and women in science.