Twenty-five individuals who have made efforts in a wide range of subject areas, including stem cell research and the jazz violin, were named on Tuesday by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as recipients of the $500,000 “Genius Grants”—awards handed down by the foundation to people who’ve made significant progress or who hold the potential to make important progress in a variety of fields, Reuters reports.
The MacArthur Foundation has handed out similar grants since the early 1980s, and the 25 awards given this year bump the total number of recipients to 732, according to Reuters. The total amount of grants awarded equals $12.5 million.
The award winners are given the grant money over a period of five years with no associated obligations, Reuters reports.
One grant recipient was Kevin Eggan, a well-known stem cell researcher who works with Harvard University, according to Reuters.
Eggan said in a Harvard statement that his award represents a “main stream message of support for embryonic stem cell research,” Reuters reports.
The topic of stem cell research is highly controversial, as it involves performing tests and procedures on human embryonic stem cells to discover additional information about development and illness, as well as the way specific diseases or mutations are treated. Critics of the research posit that it’s immoral to experiment with human embryos.
Though such research is not illegal, it is frowned upon in many circles, and President Bush recently vetoed a bill that would have boosted funding for such research, according to Reuters.
Another Genius Grant winner was Regina Carter, whose work in the field of jazz violin drew the attention of the MacArthur Foundation and won her the $500,000 no-strings-attached award, Reuters reports.
The foundation called Carter a “master of the improvised jazz violin,” according to Reuters.
Genius Grant prospects are chosen by a special committee for their “creativity, originality and potential to make important contributions in the future,” and there is no formal application system, Reuters reports.
The full list of Genius Grant winners can be located on the MacArthur Foundation website.
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