Winners announced for 2011 King Faisal International Prize

January 17, 2011

Makkah Governor Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, the Director of the King Faisal Foundation, announced the winners of the 2011 King Faisal International Prize during a ceremony this evening.

The King Faisal International Prize for Science was awarded jointly to Professor George McCleliand Whitesides (USA) of Harvard University and Professor Richard Neil Zare (USA) of Stanford University. Professor Whitesides recognized and developed connections between nanoscience and biological systems, leading to new paradigms for drug design, which may enable new and inexpensive approaches to bioscience and medical diagnostics. Professor Zare developed the extremely sensitive technique of laser induced fluorescence and pioneered its application in many fields, ranging from analytical chemistry and molecular biology to astrophysics.

The King Faisal International Prize for Medicine was awarded to Professor James Alexander Thomson (USA) of the University of Bern and Professor Shinya Yamanaka (Japan) of Montreal University for their pioneering and seminal stem cell research. Having succeeded in isolating stem cells from non-human primates in 1995 and from human embryos in 1998, Professor James Thomson made, in 2007, the groundbreaking discovery that induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) could be generated from human somatic cells. Professor Yamanaka achieved a major breakthrough in 2006, when he was able to generate induced pluripotent stem cells from mouse adult fibroblasts. In 2007, he succeeded in reprogramming human adult skin cells into iPS cells.

The Prize for Islamic Studies was awarded jointly to Professor Halil Ibrahim Inalcik (Turkey) and Professor Muhammad Adnan Bakhit Al-Sheyyab (Jordan). Professor Inalcik wrote the seminal book “An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire: 1300-1600,” which established an entirely new approach to studying Ottoman history. Professor Al-Sheyyab wrote the 3-volume book “Studies into the History of Bilad ash-Sham (today’s Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon),” which deals with profoundly important aspects of the economic and social history of those countries.

The King Faisal International Prize for Service to Islam was awarded to H.E. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, for his distinguished services to Islam in his country and the Islamic world. His accomplishments include: strengthening bilateral and multilateral cooperation through his active leadership in the League of Southeast Asian Countries, the Non-Aligned Movement and the World Islamic Conference; reinforcing Malaysian economic development and competitiveness; encouraging Islamic religious studies and creating private religious schools as part of the Malaysian basic education system; supporting Islamic legal administration and strengthening alms, endowments and Hajj institutions in Malaysia; and establishing the International Institute for Higher Islamic Studies, a non-political institution for widening the scope of Islamic thought.

The King Faisal International Prize for Arabic Language and Literature has been withheld for lack of sufficiently meritorious nominations.