The Heinz Family Foundation is honoring five people for their work to improve the world through innovations in the arts, sciences, public policy, technology, and economics.
Foundation chairwoman Teresa Heinz Kerry said the winners are "changing our world for the better."
The $250,000 awards announced Tuesday were given to Abraham Verghese, of Stanford, Calif.; Jonathan Foley, of St. Paul, Minn.; Salman Khan, of Mountain View, Calif.; Sanjeev Arora, of Albuquerque, N.M.; and Leila Janah, of San Francisco, Calif.
Verghese's writings address the vulnerability that health care patients feel. Born in Ethiopia in 1955, he came to the United States as a young man and later cared for AIDS patients in a rural Tennessee town. His books include "My Own Country: A Doctor's Story" and "Cutting for Stone."
Foley does research on the environmental impacts of agriculture and is director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota; Khan is founder of an online learning academy that aims to change education "by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere."
Arora works on a system that treats chronic diseases in rural communities, while aiming to improve the quality of care and reduce costs. He's a professor of medicine at the University of New Mexico.
Janah was honored for founding the nonprofits Samasource and SamaUSA, which use the Internet to train and employ people in impoverished communities around the world.
In announcing the awards, Heinz Kerry noted the many ways that technology is being used to address problems globally.
The awards were established in 1993 to honor the memory of U.S. Sen. John Heinz, the Pennsylvania Republican who died in a midair aircraft collision in 1991. The Heinz Family Foundation, based in Pittsburgh, is separate from the international food company.