Xiaowei Zhuang wins Dreyfus Foundation’s highest honor

Xiaowei Zhuang.

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

2 min read

Xiaowei Zhuang, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and David B. Arnold Jr. Professor of Science, has received the 2023 Dreyfus Prize in the Chemical Sciences. This year the Dreyfus Prize is awarded in Imaging in the Chemical Sciences. The Dreyfus Prize is an international biennial Prize of $250,000 and is the highest honor awarded by the Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation.

Zhuang, who works in the areas of single-molecule biology and bioimaging, is being recognized for her pioneering work in super-resolution imaging and genome-scale imaging methods that have provided transformative insights into biological molecules and systems.

“Xiaowei Zhuang’s numerous contributions to the field of imaging, most notably her invention of the STORM and MERFISH methods, have had a widespread impact on the scientific enterprise in fields from chemistry to neuroscience,” stated Matthew Tirrell, Chair of the Dreyfus Foundation Scientific Affairs Committee and Dean of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at The University of Chicago.

Understanding the inner workings of a cell requires imaging techniques with molecular-scale resolution to enable molecular interactions and processes inside the cell to be visualized. Zhuang has developed imaging methods with single-molecule sensitivity, nanometer-scale resolution, and dynamic imaging capability to meet these challenges and study a variety of biological phenomena.

Zhuang’s innovations in super-resolution and genome-scale imaging have led to otherwise impossible advances and discoveries in numerous research fields. Her studies of the brain have provided fundamentally new knowledge of the molecular and cellular architecture of the brain and a powerful new framework for mechanistic investigation of neural circuits and tissue organization with high molecular and spatial resolution.

“I am deeply honored to receive the 2023 Dreyfus Prize in the Chemical Sciences,” Zhuang stated. “I would like to thank the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation for being a leading supporter of the chemical sciences community for over 75 years.”

A public award ceremony is planned to be held at Harvard later this year.