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Balzan Foundation announced 2008 prize winners

One million Swiss Francs (around $ 885 thousand, 400 thousand) for each of the four subjects. Half of the amount must be destined by the winners to research projects

Milan, 8 September 2008 - The names of the 2008 Balzan Prize winners were announced today in a public event:

  • Maurizio Calvesi (Italy), Universit di Roma "La Sapienza", for the Visual Arts since 1700
  • Thomas Nagel (USA), University of New York, for Moral Philosophy
  • Ian H. Frazer (Australia) Diamantina Institute for Cancer, Immunology and Metabolic Medicine, University of Queensland, Brisbane, for Preventive Medicine, including Vaccination
  • Wallace S. Broecker (USA), Columbia University, New York, for Science of Climate Change.

The profiles of the winners and the motivations of the awards were presented by several members of the General Prize Committee.

Dmitry O. Shvidkovsky (Rector of Moscow Institute of Architecture; Vice-President of the Russian Academy of Fine Arts; Fellow of the Russian Academy of Architecture) read the motivation for the assignment of the Prize for Visual Arts since 1700 to Maurizio Calvesi: "For his outstanding work on modern and contemporary visual art which has contributed to a better understanding of the nature and development of modernism as well as to the study of the origin of new trends in contemporary art".

Salvatore Veca (Professor of Political Philosophy and Vice-Chairman of the Institute for Advanced Study (IUSS) of Pavia) read the motivation for the assignment of the Prize for Moral Philosophy to Thomas Nagel: "For his fundamental and innovative contributions to contemporary ethical theory, relating to both individual, personal choices and collective, social decisions. For the depth and coherence of his original philosophical perspective, that is focused on the essential tension between an objective and subjective point of view and for the originality and fecundity of his philosophical approach to some of the most important questions in contemporary life".

Werner Stauffacher (Professor Emeritus of Internal Medicine at the University of Basle; former President of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences, Basle) read the motivation for the assignment of the Prize for Preventive Medicine, including vaccination to Ian H. Frazer: "For his outstanding scientific achievement and lasting contribution to preventive medicine in developing a vaccine that promises to prevent virus-induced carcinoma of the cervix, which claims million lives every year".

Enric Banda (Research Professor of Geophysics at the Institute of Earth Sciences in Barcelona, Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC); former Secretary General of the European Science Foundation in Strasbourg; President of Euroscience, Strasbourg) read the motivation for the assignment of the Prize for Science of Climate Change to Wallace S. Broecker: "For his extraordinary contributions to the understanding of climate change through his discoveries concerning the role of the oceans and their interactions with the atmosphere, as well as the role of glacial changes and the records contained in ice cores and ocean sediments. His contributions have been significant in understanding both gradual and abrupt climate change".

The President of the Balzan Foundation "Prize", Ambassador Bruno Bottai expressed satisfaction for the prestige of the eminent scholars who will be presented with their Balzan Prizes personally by the President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano, during an award ceremony to be held in Rome on November 21 at the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei.

The President of the General Prize Committee, Ambassador Sergio Romano, added that the awarded subjects, that vary each year, make it possible to encourage specific fields of study which are new or unknown to other international awards. Two prizes are awarded in the humanities (literature, the moral sciences and the arts) and two in the sciences (medicine and the physical, mathematical and natural sciences). As usual, the Committee's twenty prestigious scholars from eleven different European countries put a great deal of effort in selecting the winners from among the candidates submitted by the most important international cultural institutions. It is important to remember that the Balzan Foundation requests that half of the million Swiss Francs received by the winner of each of the four subjects be destined for research work, preferably involving young scholars and researchers.

The announcement, which took place at the Triennale di Milano, under the auspices of the City of Milan, was followed by a lecture by Sir Peter Hall, 2005 Balzan Prize for the Social and Cultural History of Cities since the Beginning of the 16th Century, titled "The European City: Divided Futures?".


Contact: Susannah Gold
Gold Communications

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