Jump to content
Your browser is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this websites. Learn how to update your browser[Close]

Prestigious awards

Balzan Prizes 2016 awarded to Italians and German

By swissinfo.ch and agencies

Two academics from Italy and one from Germany have won the Balzan Prizes for 2016, worth CHF750,000 ($770,000) each. For the first time, the Balzan Foundation did not award a fourth prize.

This year’s winners are Piero Boitani from the Sapienza University of Rome for “comparative literature”, Reinhard Jahn from the Max-Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen for “molecular and cellular neuroscience”, and Federico Capasso from Harvard for “applied photonics”.

The prizes, regarded as among the most prestigious in the world, are named after Italian journalist Eugenio Balzan, who spent many years in Switzerland during the fascist Mussolini regime in his home country. The fund is administered from Zurich, while the prize foundation is based in Milan.

Boitani was chosen “for his extraordinary ability to portray world literature as a living dialogue with the classics of antiquity, the Middle Ages and the modern era”.

The jury singled out Jahn’s contributions to understanding the processes behind the transmission of signals between nerve cells.

Capasso’s work on new materials with special electronic and optic characteristics has led to the development of new types of lasers, known as quantum cascade lasers.

The committee said it had been unable to agree on a worthy winner for the fourth prize, for “international relations: history and theory”.

Under the terms of the award, half the prize money has to be spent in financing research projects, “preferably” by young scholars. They are awarded in each area at intervals of not less than three years.

The official ceremony will take place in Rome on November 17.

Sign up for our free newsletter and get the top stories delivered to your inbox.

swissinfo.ch and agencies



All rights reserved. The content of the website by swissinfo.ch is copyrighted. It is intended for private use only. Any other use of the website content beyond the use stipulated above, particularly the distribution, modification, transmission, storage and copying requires prior written consent of swissinfo.ch. Should you be interested in any such use of the website content, please contact us via contact@swissinfo.ch.

As regards the use for private purposes, it is only permitted to use a hyperlink to specific content, and to place it on your own website or a website of third parties. The swissinfo.ch website content may only be embedded in an ad-free environment without any modifications. Specifically applying to all software, folders, data and their content provided for download by the swissinfo.ch website, a basic, non-exclusive and non-transferable license is granted that is restricted to the one-time downloading and saving of said data on private devices. All other rights remain the property of swissinfo.ch. In particular, any sale or commercial use of these data is prohibited.