|The Nobel: Visions of Our Century: About the Featured Laureates|
Laureate Background Information
David Baltimore -- Medicine 1975
Baltimore is one of a group of three winners selected "for their discoveries concerning the interaction between tumor viruses and the genetic material of the cell."
An early advocate of federal AIDS research, he was appointed in 1996 to head the National Institutes of Health AIDS Vaccine Research Committee. Baltimore is currently president of the California Institute of Technology, a position he has held since 1997.
Paul Berg -- Chemistry 1980
One of three winners, Berg was selected "for his fundamental studies of the biochemistry of nucleic acids, with particular regard to recombinant-DNA." He was the first investigator to construct a molecule containing parts of DNA from different species.
Berg is the Robert W. and Vivian K. Cahill Professor of Cancer Research, Emeritus, and director emeritus of the Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine at Stanford University where he has been since 1959.
J. Michael Bishop -- Medicine 1989
Bishop, along with his colleague Harold Varmus, was honored "for their discovery of the cellular origin of retroviral oncogenes," which concerns the identification of a large family of genes which have been implicated in the genesis of cancer.
Bishop has been a professor of microbiology and immunology and also in the department of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California at San Francisco. He became the eighth Chancellor of UCSF in 1998.
Murray Gell-Mann -- Physics 1969
Gell-Mann was awarded the prize "for his contributions and discoveries concerning the classification of elementary particles and their interactions." Gell-Mann's "eightfold way" theory brought order to the chaos created by the discovery of some 100 particles in the atom's nucleus. He showed that all of these, and the neutron and proton as well, are composed of fundamental objects including the ones he named "quarks."
Gell-Mann is currently Distinguished Fellow of the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico which he co-founded in 1984. His work since then has focused on simplicity and complexity, as described in his popular science book The Quark and the Jaguar.
Nadine Gordimer -- Literature 1991
Gordimer was selected as the winner "who through her magnificent epic writing has -- in the words of Alfred Nobel -- been of very great benefit to humanity." As a native of South Africa, some of her books, including The Conservationist (1974) and A Sport of Nature (1987), were banned in her home country during the previous regime under apartheid.
She still lives in Johannesburg where she published her most recent work, The Pickup, in 2001.
Douglas Osheroff -- Physics 1996
Osheroff was part of a three-person team awarded "for their discovery of superfluidity in helium-3." The discovery was a breakthrough in low-temperature physics, and heralded the start of intensive research on the new quantum liquid.
Osheroff is the G. Jackson and C. J. Wood Professor of Physics at Stanford University in California, where he has been since 1987.
Joseph Rotblat -- Peace 1995
50 years after the dropping of a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, Dr. Joseph Rotblat was selected for the Peace Prize along with the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs "for their efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics and, in the longer run, to eliminate such arms."
Rotblat is emeritus professor of physics at the University of London, and has been the emeritus president of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs since 1988.
Wole Soyinka -- Literature 1986
Soyinka received the prize in literature as an author "who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence." He has a long bibliography of novels, plays and poems many of which reflect the culture and mythology of his native Nigeria. His most recently published work is a collection of essays entitled The Burden of Memory, Muse of Forgiveness (1999).
Soyinka has been a of professor of comparative literature at the University of Ife in Nigeria, and a visiting professor at several prestigious universities in Europe, Africa and the North America. He is currently Woodruff Professor of the Arts at Emory University, in Atlanta.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu -- Peace 1984
Archbishop Tutu was honored for his work and leadership in the non-violent struggle against apartheid in South Africa. The award committee issued the prize to Tutu as a gesture "to all individuals and groups in South Africa who, with their concern for human dignity, fraternity and democracy, incite the admiration of the world."
After retiring as Archbishop in 1996 he became Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, and presided over the traumatic revelation of the secrets of apartheid.
Elie Wiesel -- Peace 1985
Wiesel is a prolific author and outspoken advocate for many oppressed groups of people. He was described by the Nobel committee as one of the most important spiritual leaders and guides in an age when violence, repression and racism continue to characterize the world. A Jewish survivor of the Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald, Wiesel has since settled in the United States where he lives in New York City.
Wiesel has been Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities at Boston University since 1976.
Jody Williams -- Peace 1997
Williams is the founding coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). Both she and the ICBL were jointly honored with the Peace Prize for their work toward the banning and clearing of anti-personnel mines throughout the world.
Williams now serves as Ambassador for the ICBL, which she helped found in 1992. She has overseen the growth of the ICBL from a coalition of six non-governmental organizations to more than 1,000.