Pfizer CEO and the son of Holocaust survivors, Albert Bourla, wins $1 million Genesis Prize
Since the pandemic started over two years ago, Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla has been leading the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer in the development of mRNA vaccines to combat the deadly coronavirus. Now, Bourla, the son of Holocaust survivors, is being recognized for his efforts in leading the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Albert Bourla was awarded on Wednesday a $1 million Genesis Prize for his efforts in leading the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a report by the Washington Post. The Genesis Prize Foundation notes Bourla’s decision to reject U.S. funding of the Pfizer vaccine in order to speed up the jab’s development, adding him to a list of Jewish figures to win the prestigious prize.
The $1 million award is granted each year to a person for their professional achievements, contributions to humanity, and commitment to Jewish values. The Genesis Prize Foundation said Bourla had received the largest number of votes in an online campaign in which some 200,000 people in 71 countries participated.
It commended him for his “leadership, determination, and especially for his willingness to assume great risks.” It cited Pfizer’s decision to turn down U.S. government funding early in the pandemic, a decision that helped the company reduce bureaucracy and expedite the development of the vaccine.
The foundation said that Boula plans to donate his prize to projects aimed at preserving the memory of Holocaust victims, especially in Greece. Bourla’s parents were among the few survivors of Thessaloniki’s Jewish community, which was all but wiped out by the Nazis during World War II.
The prize was first started in 2014 and is run in a partnership between the private Genesis Prize Foundation and the chairman’s office of the Jewish Agency, a nonprofit group that has close ties to the Israeli government. It is funded by a $100 million endowment established by the foundation.
In a statement issued by the foundation, Bourla said he was accepting the prize “humbly and on behalf of all my Pfizer colleagues who answered the urgent call of history.”
“I was brought up in a Jewish family who believed that each of us is only as strong as the bonds of our community; and that we are all called upon by God to repair the world,” Boula added.