Seven academics from India, the United States, Germany and Belgium have been honoured.with the Balzan Prize, each receiving CHF750,000 ($758,000) in prize money – half of which will be spent of furthering their research.
Doris Leuthard, who holds the rotating role of Swiss President this year, said society and the economy would in future depend on new ways of thinking as its adapts to developing technologies and changes its approach raw materials and waste.
Indian national Bina Agarwal, from the University of Manchester in Britain, won the “Gender Studies” prize for raising awareness of and promoting women in southern countries.
James Allison and Robert Schreiber, from the University of California and Washington University School of Medicine respectively, were honoured for their groundbreaking work in the field of immunology and cancer therapy.
Germans Aleide and Jan Assmann won the "Collective Memory" category, while Belgian Michaël Gillon was recognized for his research into planets and solar systems.
A fifth category was added to the prize list this year, deferred from 2016 when judges could not agree on a winner.
It went to American political scientist Robert Owen Keohane who won the award for his "fundamental contribution to international relations".
The International Balzan Prize Foundationexternal link, based in Milan and Zurich, is named after the Italian journalist Eugenio Balzan. His daughter started the foundation in Lugano in 1957.