Swiss wins Balzan award

One Swiss, two Britons and an Italian have won the four Balzan prizes for 2009, it was announced in Milan on Monday.

This content was published on September 7, 2009 - 20:24

The prizes of SFr1 million ($944,800) each are named after Italian journalist Eugenio Balzan (1874-1953), 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.

Michael Grätzel from the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne won the prize for new materials for having invented a new type of photovoltaic cell.

Grätzel's cells are less expensive than the more common ones based on silicon and are "one of the most promising approaches to the exploitation of solar power", the judges said.

Terence Cave, a professor at St John's College, Oxford, won the prize in the "Literature since 1500" category for his work into literature of the Renaissance.

In the sciences, 91-year-old British-born Brenda Milner from Montreal University was picked for her work on the hippocampus and its role in memory, and Paolo Rossi-Monti from Florence University was named for his work on the history of science.

The Balzan prizes are regarded as among the most prestigious in the world. Under the terms of the award, half of 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 aim is to promote culture and the sciences and to reward initiatives in the area of promoting peace and brotherhood.

The prizes will be presented in the Swiss parliament building on November 20.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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