Science Prizes
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It is Nobel season! This is where the world honors the highest level of achievement in medicine and physiology, chemistry, economics, literature, physics and peace. Scientists everywhere celebrate the Nobels with spirited discussions, banter on the deserving individuals who were overlooked and should have won and of course, admiration for those awarded. The awards cannot be named posthumously and the prize can only be shared by up to three people. Winners can be anyone in the world; although U.S. scientists have received a high portion of the prizes over the years. This is a testament to the quality and innovation of our science.

The Nobels are the most visible of science awards and the most coveted. Established in the will of Alfred Nobel, they have been awarded since 1901. Alfred Nobel discovered and developed dynamite to assist in large-scale engineering projects. The story is that he created the prizes in his will to compensate for his discovery of explosives that greatly advanced the weapons of war.

The Nobels are the most visible of science awards and the most coveted. Established in the will of Alfred Nobel, they have been awarded since 1901. Alfred Nobel discovered and developed dynamite to assist in large-scale engineering projects. The story is that he created the prizes in his will to compensate for his discovery of explosives that greatly advanced the weapons of war. While the Nobel Prize is generally known by the public, there are many other awards that celebrate high achievement in science. Less known, but highly prestigious, are the Lasker awards, established by Albert and Mary Lasker. These are affectionately called the American Nobels and they have been awarded every year since 1945. These awards recognize significant contributions to medical science or public service in the medical field. This award has served as a springboard to a Nobel as 86 Lasker winners have gone on to receive a Nobel. During the first week of every October, former Lasker winners sleep lightly and listen for that middle of the night call from Stockholm with the good news.

Another prestigious science award is the Breakthrough Prize. This is a new award started in 2015 by Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Yuri Milner and it celebrates achievements in life sciences, fundamental physics and mathematics. The goals of the award are to generate popular support for scientific research and to inspire young people to pursue careers in science. A very worthy cause!

A different type of award, the National Medal of Science, was first awarded in 1963. It is given by the U.S. President to scientists and engineers in behavioral and social sciences, chemistry, biology, engineering, mathematics and physics.

While these awards honor noteworthy achievements in many fields, many are critical of the fact that award winners have not reflected the diversity present in the scientific community. The L'Oreal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science recognizes women from around the world in physical science, mathematics, computer science or in the life sciences.

Finally, although not an award, election to the National Academy of Medicine or Science is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine. It recognizes those who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service. There are currently about 2,000 members representing 31 disciplines.

We applaud those selected for these prestigious awards and celebrate the distinction of the quality and innovation in U.S. science.

For more information…

The Nobel Prize
On 27 November 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, giving the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace - the Nobel Prizes.

Breakthrough Prize
The Breakthrough Prize, renowned as the "Oscars of Science", recognizes the world's top scientists working in the fundamental sciences - the disciplines that ask the biggest questions and find the deepest explanations. Each prize is $3 million and presented in the fields of Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics and Mathematics. In addition, the New Horizons in Physics and Mathematics Prizes and the Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prize are awarded to early-career researchers.

The National Medal of Science
Established in 1959 by the U.S. Congress, the National Medal of Science is the highest recognition the nation can bestow on scientists and engineers. The presidential award is given to individuals deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to knowledge in the physical, biological, mathematical, engineering, or social and behavioral sciences, in service to the Nation. These broad areas include such disciplines as astronomy, chemistry, computer and information science and engineering, geoscience, materials research, and research on STEM education.

National Academy of Medicine
Founded in 1970 as the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) is one of three academies that make up the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies) in the United States. Operating under the 1863 Congressional charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academies are private, nonprofit institutions that work outside of government to provide objective advice on matters of science, technology, and health.

National Academy of Sciences
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a private, non-profit society of distinguished scholars. Established by an Act of Congress, signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, the NAS is charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. Scientists are elected by their peers to membership in the NAS for outstanding contributions to research. The NAS is committed to furthering science in America, and its members are active contributors to the international scientific community. Approximately 500 current and deceased members of the NAS have won Nobel Prizes, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, founded in 1914, is today one of the premier international journals publishing the results of original research.