International Balzan Prize to promote research

Since 1961, the International Balzan Prize Foundation has been rewarding outstanding scientists in the humanities and natural sciences as well as personalities from the fields of arts and culture with 750,000 Swiss Francs to fund research projects.

Based on an agreement for the joint promotion of scientific research and the dissemination of its results, the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences organise alternately every second year the «Annual Balzan Lecture» and the «Interdisciplinary Forum of Balzan Prizewinners» as well as, additionally, the «International Interdisciplinary Research Laboratory».

Prize ceremony 2016
Prize winners

Upcoming Event Dec 14, 2016

2016 Annual Balzan Lecture

Pascale Cossart
, Institut Pasteur, 2013 Balzan Prize Laureate
«The bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes: a unique model in biology»

preceeded by a short presentation by

Melanie Blokesch, Global Health Institute, EPFL
«Fighting for DNA - how the cholera-causing pathogen steals genes
from its neighbors»

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 (17h-19h)
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)
Bâtiment SV, room SV1717

Further information

Programme (pdf)

Annual Balzan Lecture

2014: Terence Cave (St John's College at the University of Oxford; Laureate in «Literature since 1500», 2009)
Due to an increasing value-oriented and pragmatic attitude that characterises our society, the humanities find themselves under pressure to legitimise their raison d'être. Terence Cave discussed the relation between literature theory, method and practice. In so doing, he addressed the value of literature as form of knowledge for an understanding of the presence. This also questions the positioning of literature studies in the academic, political and social context. The book «Thinking with Literature» by Terence Cave was published in Oxford University Press. 

2012: Sir Michael Marmot (University College London; Laureate in «Epidemiology», 2004)
In his lecture, Sir Michael Marmot presented recent research as part of the project «Fair Societies, Healthy Lives», which highlights the influence of social inequalities on health and life expectation and attempts to make recommendations for adequate measures.

2010: Anthony Grafton (Princeton University; Laureate in «History of the Humanities», 2002)
Anthony Grafton reported on the edition project of the correspondence by the humanist scholar Joseph Justus Scaliger (1540-1609) that comprises some 1,650 letters. His correspondence partners were well-known contemporaries such as the philologist Isaac Casaubon and Justus Lipsius, the astronomer Tycho Brahe as well as the legal scholar and historian Jacques-Auguste de Thou.

Interdisciplinary Forum of Balzan Prizewinners

The «Balzan Prizewinners Interdisciplinary Forum» precedes the award ceremony in the National Council Chamber of the Federal Palace in Berne and comprises presentations by the Balzan Prizewinners of the current year on their research findings, followed by a discussion involving the audience. In addition to the thematic contributions, panel discussions at previous Forums focused on the framework conditions that facilitate ground-breaking discoveries, on the importance of «excellence» in research and teaching and on the implications of the prizewinners’ achievements for science at large.

International Interdisciplinary Research Laboratory

The interdisciplinary meetings were established in 2012 by the International Balzan Prize Foundation, the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei and the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences. They aim at promoting academic and scientific cooperation between "natural" and "moral" scientific disciplines and among researchers at different stages of their academic career who have previously cooperated in academic initiatives of the three institutions involved. This initiative is inspired by the idea that mutual exchange is beneficial for scientific progress, and that creativity is dependent not only on individual research endeavours, but also on the interaction with social and cultural life. Another characteristic of the meetings is to give young scholars a key role in the discussion in order to enhance their scientific profiles. Meetings so far held in Switzerland were in 2015 (Lausanne) and 2013 (Lugano).

Members of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences

Centres of Excellence

Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences
House of Academies
Laupenstrasse 7
P.O. Box
3001 Bern

Phone +41 (0)31 306 92 20