Professor Weissmann receives the Dr H. R Heineken Prize for 1982 Holland's biggest science prize awarded for the seventh time In earlier times a person who had done pioneering work in the scientific field was presented with a medallion or a gold snuff box or even a handful of gold coins in recognition of his achievement. We can hardly picture this happening any more in this day and age. Once the universities started to flourish and various other organizations began to devote attention to science, more and more rewards took the form of honorary doctorates and illuminated scrolls. With the coming of the industrial era cash prizes become more frequent, one of the most notable examples being the Nobel Prize. At the moment the Dr. H.P. Heineken Prize is the biggest prize in the science field in Holland. It is awarded once every three years to a scientist nominated by the Dutch Royal Academy. Until now 7 winners, amongst whom only one Dutchman, have received this honour and the winners have even included two Nobel prizewinners (the Belgian, Prof. C. de Duve and the Englishman, Dr. A. Klug). By tradition, the presentation ceremony is held at the Royal Academy in Amsterdam and H.R.H. Prince Claus of the Nether lands was again prepared, for the fourth time in succession, to address the winner and present the prize. The laureate for 1982 was Professor C. Weissmann who received the sum of 200,000 guilders as well as a crystal on which a faithful miniature of Antoni van Leeuwenhoek's microscope is mounted. Professor Weissmann has a strong international background. Bom in Hungary, he studied in Switzerland where he currently lives, whereas he also spent long periods in Brazil and the United States. He won the prize for his research into genetics, the study of heredity, in which genes have an important role to play by transmitting hereditary characteristics to the descendants. Professor Weissmann succeeded in modifying these genes outside the cells in which they live, i.e. in a test-tube, and later re-introducing them into living cells cultured by him and his team. This may sound all very complicated, but its aim is to gain an understanding of the behaviour of these genes which can have such a great influence on the descendants of all life-forms, not only humans but also plants and animals. At the same time he studied the causes of variations in these genes which in turn may give rise to abnormal forms of living organisms. He is also the first person who, together with his team of researchers, has succeeded in getting a bacterium to produce human interferon. This substance has evoked quite some optimism in the world because of the possibilities it may offer in the treatment of virus diseases, including cancer. The audience at the presentation was addressed first by Professor P. Borst, a prominent member of the Academy's nomination committee. His talk was especially interesting and highly learned, which would make it difficult to summarize it here. Then came a speech by Mr. A.H. Heineken, who is chairman of the Heineken Foundation. After thanking H.R.H. Prince Claus for his willingness to present the prize once more, Mr. Heineken also expressed his gratitude to the Academy, and particularly to its Natural Science Department which is responsible for nominating the winner. Mr. Heineken went on to explain the importance of scientific research, expressing the hope that the awarding of prizes would focus more attention on the people engaged in scientific research work. Referring to Professor Weismann's broad international experience, Prince Claus said in his speech: "Good international contacts smooth the exchange of know-how and bring the members of the scientific community closer together, in the interests of mankind". After receiving his prize, Professor Weissmann described the possibilities for applying the research results obtained in his laboratory and in similar institutions in the practice of medical science. H.R.H. Prince Claus of the Netherlands congratulates the 1982 laureate, Professor C. Weissmann. 3

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Heineken Contact | 1983 | | pagina 3