Public Release: 

The 2017 Balzan Prizewinners announced today in Milan

Announced also the Winner of the 2016 Prize for International Relations, not awarded last year

Gold Communications

Milan, 11 September 2017 - The names of the 2017 Balzan Prizewinners were disclosed today in a public announcement:

  • Aleida and Jan Assmann (Germany), Universities of Constance and Heidelberg, for Collective Memory
  • Bina Agarwal (India), University of Manchester (UK), for Gender Studies
  • James P. Allison and Robert D. Schreiber (USA), the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Washington University School of Medicine Saint Louis, respectively, for Immunological Approaches in Cancer Therapy
  • Michaël Gillon (Belgium), University of Liège, for The Sun's Planetary System and Exoplanets

The 2016 Balzan Prizewinner for International Relations, History and Theory, not awarded last year, is Robert O. Keohane, (USA), Woodrow Wilson School - Princeton University.

The 2017 Balzan Prizewinners were announced today in Milan by the Chairman of the Balzan General Prize Committee, Salvatore Veca, together with the President of the Balzan "Prize" Foundation, Enrico Decleva, at the Corriere della Sera Foundation. The profiles of the winners and the citations were presented by five prestigious members of the General Prize Committee.

The Prizes will be presented during the award ceremony to be held in Berne on November 17.

The amount of each prize is 750,000 Swiss Francs (approx. €660,000; $790,000).

Thomas Maissen (Director of the German Historical Institute in Paris; Chair in Early Modern History at the University of Heidelberg) read the citation for the assignment of the Prize for Collective Memory to Aleida and Jan Assmann

"For their shared, inter- and transdisciplinary elaboration of the concept of "cultural memory" and its defining clarifications as a paradigm in the field of cultural studies, as well as in public debates; for a decades-long exchange about very different historical realities and models, which in a truly extraordinary way proved to be complementary; for the work carried out independently, of far-reaching impact, which presents collective memory as a requirement for the formation of the identity of religious and political communities".

Marjan Schwegman (Professor Emeritus of Political and Cultural History of the Twentieth Century, Utrecht University) read the citation for the assignment of the Prize for Gender Studies to Bina Agarwal

"For challenging established premises in economics and the social sciences by using an innovative gender perspective; for enhancing the visibility and empowerment of rural women in the Global South; for opening new intellectual and political pathways in key areas of gender and development".

Jules Hoffmann (Emeritus Distinguished Class Research Director at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Strasbourg; 2011 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine) read the citation for the assignment of the Prize for mmunological Approaches in Cancer Therapy to James P. Allison and Robert D. Schreiber

"Professors Schreiber and Allison have played transformative roles in the field of tumor immunology, Schreiber by demonstrating that the immune system is crucially involved in fighting tumours and by introducing the concept of immune editing and immune escape, and Allison by unravelling the molecular bases of this escape and succeeding to block it by monoclonal antibody therapy increasing for the first time the survival of patients with metastatic melanoma. Both have collaborated recently in the identification of tumor specific neoantigens, together with other scientists, an approach that might lead to the development of effective personalised cancer-specific vaccines".

Bengt Gustafsson (Professor Emeritus of Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Uppsala; Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, and the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters) read the citation for the assignment of the Prize for The Sun's Planetary System and Exoplanets to Michaël Gillon

"For his innovative and fruitful searches for planets around nearby stars, mile stones on the way towards finding life signatures beyond our solar system".

Salvatore Veca (Professor of Political Philosophy at the Institute for Advanced Study - IUSS, Pavia) read the citation for the assignment of the Prize for International Relations, History Theory to Robert O. Keohane

"For his fundamental contributions to the institutional approach in the field of international relations; for his untiring commitment to research and for the decisive, persistent influence of his teachings".

The International Balzan Foundation, founded in 1957, operates through two separate institutions. The International Balzan Foundation "Prize" in Milan, chaired by Enrico Decleva, selects the subjects to be awarded and the candidates through its General Prize Committee. The Balzan Foundation "Fund" in Zurich, chaired by Gisèle Girgis-Musy, administers the estate left by Eugenio Balzan, so as to place at the disposal of the International Balzan Foundation "Prize" the financial means necessary to realize its objective.

At the conclusion of the announcement of the 2017 Balzan Prizewinners, the President of the General Prize Committee, Professor Salvatore Veca, informed the public that the 2018 Balzan Prizes will be awarded in the following fields:

  • Social Anthropology
  • Global History
  • Fluid Dynamics
  • Chemical Ecology

The amount of each of the four 2018 Balzan Prizes will be 750,000 Swiss Francs.

It was also announced that the special Prize for Humanity, Peace and Fraternity among Peoples, with a value of 1,000,000 Swiss Francs, will be awarded in 2018.

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