$100,000 prize for developing country scientists

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[NEW DELHI] A major new international prize — worth US$100,000 and awarded annually — to honour a scientist who lives and has carried out his or her research in the developing world, is about to be launched.

The decision to launch such a prize was approved yesterday (20 October) by the members of the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) at their bi-annual meeting in New Delhi, India. The award is being financed by the Illy Corporation — one of Europe’s largest coffee importers — and will be known as the ‘Trieste prize' after the town in northern Italy where both Illy and TWAS are based.

According to TWAS officials, it is intended to act as a type of "developing country Nobel prize", implicitly recognising the fact that virtually no top-level international scientific awards are currently won for research carried out in developing nations.

Unlike the Nobel prizes, however, the scientific disciplines to be honoured will change from year to year. The first prize, for 2003, will go to a researcher working in the biological sciences.

C N R Rao of the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research in Bangalore and president of TWAS emphasises that the new prize is intended to reward a scientist actually conducting their research in the developing world, "not someone who has an Indian or American passport but works in the United States”.

Nominations will be invited from both individuals and institutions, and will be considered by a special committee set up by TWAS, which was created in 1983 by Nobel laureate, Abdus Salam.

The involvement of coffee company Illy in the award scheme stems from its long-term trade links with Latin American countries including Brazil and Colombia. “The company sees its decision to finance this award as giving something back to the developing world,” says Mohamed Hassan, executive director of TWAS.

© SciDev.Net 2002