CalTech’s Ibrahim Cissé Awarded the Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science

Ibrahim Cissé, a professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology, has been selected to receive the 2021 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science. The prize is awarded annually to young immigrant scientists living and working in the United States “whose early-career work exemplifies outstanding scientific accomplishment, and presents a significant contribution to their field of study.” The foundation was established in 2000 by Jan and Marica Vilcek, immigrants from the former Czechoslovakia to raise awareness of immigrant contributions in the United States. The prize includes a $100,000 award.

Dr. Cissé  was honored for “his use of super-resolution biological imaging to directly visualize the process of gene expression in living cells, and for his application of the physical sciences to RNA transcription to understand the behavior of biomolecules in living organisms.”

Dr. Cissé was born and raised in the African nation of Niger. He moved to the United States at age 17 to attend North Carolina Central University. “Having trained at a historically Black college was just an incredible way of learning to see and think about race, not just in America but also in Africa,” he notes. “It gave me the knowledge and that empowerment that, no matter what adversity I was going to face, it is important to move forward in a way that will empower others and create opportunity for others.”

Dr. Cissé joined the Caltech faculty earlier this year. He is an expert in the imaging of single molecules in living cells. Dr. Cissé earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. at the University of Illinois.


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