Frontiers’ Co-founder receives Shannon Visionary Award

Bell Labs Shannon Visionary Award


Professor Henry Markram, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Frontiers, was one of five global luminaries and visionaries honored with a Bell Labs Shannon Visionary Award on April 28, 2016.


Photo courtesy of Bell Labs

Bell Labs is the birthplace of the digital age. This is where Claude Elwood Shannon developed the idea that information can be represented by “zeroes” and “ones” and established a mathematical theory that explains just how. It is also where the first transistor was invented to electrically generate BITS.

The awards, given out in a two day celebration of 100 years since Shannon’s birth, recognized five visionaries of the digital age, including; Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Alphabet Inc., Irwin Jacobs, Co-founder of Qualcomm, Amber Case, Cyborg Anthropologist, Bob Metcalfe, Co-inventor of Ethernet and formulator of Metcalfe’s Law and Henry Markram, founder of the Blue Brain and Human Brain Projects.

“We created the Bell Labs Shannon Visionary Awards to recognize pioneering contributions to advancing the current and future digital age that is, and will be, underpinned by Shannon’s seminal work,” says Marcus Weldon, President of Bell Labs and CTO of Nokia.


Photo courtesy of Bell Labs

“The award is a tremendous honor because Shannon is not only the father of Information Theory, he laid the foundation for the digital age that shapes modern society. Digital neuroscience is only possible today because of Shannon’s fundamental work. Simulating the brain became possible because Information Theory proves that we do not need to experimentally map everything in a complex system that is highly ordered,” says Markram.

Markram is known for pioneering simulation neuroscience. He founded the Blue Brain Project and Human Brain Project to digitally reconstruct and simulate the rodent and eventually the human brain.


Henry, together with Kamila Markram, also co-founded Frontiers, one of the first digital open access academic publishers. Frontiers has pioneered a spectrum of digital technologies that improve the quality of peer-review, bring transparency and accountability to publishing, and vastly increase the speed and efficiency of publishing. In 2014, Frontiers won the ALPSP Gold award for innovation in publishing and in just a few short years, many of the Frontiers journals became the largest and most cited journals in their academic fields.

“Scientific discoveries are fuelling a rapidly growing impact of the digital age on society. Any delay in publishing valid research holds back its benefits to society. If Shannons’ 1948 paper had been delayed by a few years, our world would be very different. Today, many great discoveries are being held back by unnecessary rejection cascades from journal to journal and inefficient offline processes. We need Internet technologies to help get valid science out there as fast as possible. We developed Frontiers to try to put publishing into the hands and responsibility of scientists and to propel academic publishing into the forefront of the digital age,” say the Markrams.

Held in Murray Hill, New Jersey, more than 250 leaders, visionaries and researchers from industry, academia and Bell Labs attended the inaugural event. In addition to the prestigious award ceremony, the event showcased the premiere of the Human Digital Orchestra – a new Bell Labs “Experiment in Art and Technology (EAT)” and a series of entertaining and reflective talks from distinguished guests who knew Shannon.

View more photos from the event.

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