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Prizes and distinctions

2014 Prizes

p. 41

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Gérard Berry

Laureate of the CNRS Gold Medal

1Gérard Berry, Algorithms, Machines and Languages, has won the most prestigious French scientific ward: the CNRS Gold Medal.

2The next issue of the La Lettre du Collège de France (no. 40) will publish excerpts from the speech that Prof. Berry delivered at the awards ceremony for this distinction. Several Collège de France professors have received the CNRS Gold Medal in the last ten years: Alain Connes in 2004, Serge Haroche in 2009 and Philippe Descola in 2012.

Alain Fischer

2015 Japan Prize Laureate

Medical Science and Medicinal Science

3The Japan Prize is awarded by the Japan Prize Foundation. Since its inception in 1985, the Foundation has awarded the Prize to eighty-one persons from thirtheen countries. The Japan Prize Foundation wished to reward Alain Fischer, Director of the Institute Imagine, Chair of Experimental Medicine at the Collège de France, for his pioneering work on gene therapy. Prof. Fischer has demonstrated the therapeutic power of this therapy on X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency.

4In 2000, Profs Alain Fischer, Marina Cavazzana and Salima Hacein-Bey carried out and published the world’s first test on gene therapy for this disease. The retroviral vector used for this first test has since been modified successfully to prevent any side effects. Prof. Fischer commented that “gene therapy is an extra weapon in the arsenal of therapeutic strategies for enhancing the treatment of genetic diseases and probably other pathologies as well”.

5More information is available at:​en/​prize_past_2015_prize02.html

Ian Hacking

© International Balzan Prize Foundation

Balzan Prize

6Emeritus Prof. Ian Hacking, Chair of Philosophy and History of Scientific Concepts from 2001 to 2006, won the 2014 Balzan Prize for his fundamental contributions to the philosophy and history of the natural and social sciences, for the broad range of themes studied in his research, and for his original epistemological perspective centred on a version of scientific realism, and which departs from the dominant paradigm in the philosophy of science from the last century. Ian Hacking is one of the most important contemporary philosophers of the natural and social sciences. His work consists in a reconstruction and genealogical interpretation of major scientific theories and concepts. His research seeks to highlight the cultural, social, institutional, cognitive, and practical circumstances in which we can identify the historical appearance or emergence of ways of seeing, of styles of reasoning, and of theories about ourselves and the world that provide contemporary models of understanding in the framework of scientific knowledge.

Clément Sanchez

Eni Award

7Clément Sanchez, Chair of Chemistry of Hybrid Materials, received the prestigious Eni Award 2014, in the “Environmental protection” section. The chemistry of hybrid materials consists for example in endowing a simple piece of transparent glass with the flexibility and the bright colour of a flower petal to create a material with high-performance mechanical and optical properties. And it is only our imagination that limits the realm of possibilities (in information technology, medicine, energy, cosmetics, construction, transport, etc.). In the environmental field, for instance, we can develop photovoltaic cells on hard or flexible substrates, sensors able to detect toxic materials, photocatalysts to depollute a liquid, absorbers to capture CO2, catalysts to turn heavy hydrocarbons into petrol using minimal energy, and so on.

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« 2014 Prizes », La lettre du Collège de France [En ligne], 9 | 2015, mis en ligne le 25 septembre 2015, consulté le 22 juillet 2018. URL :

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