The Honorable Neal Lane
Assistant to the President for Science and Technology

Nobel Laureates Reception

November 30

Good evening.  It is a special pleasure to welcome you here this evening to honor two remarkable scientists who have achieved the highest possible recognition in their field - the Nobel Prize for 1999. Let me begin by asking our guests of honor:

Dr. Günter Blobel, and his wife, Laura;  and
Dr. Ahmed Zewail and his wife,  Dema.

to step forward and be recognized.

I also want to take just a minute to recognize other honored guests who are with us:

First, the Swedish Ambassador to the United States, Rolf Ekeus, and Mrs. Ekeus;

Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala;

Under Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz;

Dr. Rita Colwell, Director of the National Science Foundation;

Harold Varmus, Director of the National Institutes of Health; and

Ruth Kirschstein, Deputy Director of NIH.

The President and Vice President have longstanding commitments to be in other parts of the country today, but the President has already sent a personal note of congratulations to each of these laureates.  I just want to take this opportunity on behalf of the Administration to publicly recognize their great accomplishment.

Dr. Günter Blobel, a world-renowned cell and molecular biologist at Rockefeller University in New York, was awarded the 1999 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his groundbreaking research into how proteins are transported to specific sites within the human body.  Such knowledge will help us address human hereditary diseases, and aid us in developing a more effective use of cells as "protein factories" to produce important drugs.

Dr. Ahmed Zewail, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, was awarded the 1999 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his pioneering research involving the use of ultra-short laser flashes to investigate fundamental chemical reactions on the time scale at which such reactions actually occur.  His research will improve our understanding of the function of catalysts, help in designing molecular electronic components, and provide us with a better road map of how to produce future medicines.

Although they are unable to be with us this evening, we additionally wish to honor two other Nobel Prize winners, also associated with U.S. universities: University of Michigan's Professor Emeritus J.G. Veltman, who shared the Nobel Prize for Physics; and Dr. Robert Mundell of Columbia University, who received this year's Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences.

As we honor these great scientists this evening, we can feel both humble and proud - humble at the thought of their great accomplishments, and proud that scientists associated with U.S. universities earned four of the five Nobel Prizes this year in chemistry, economics, medicine, and physics.  As you know, last year, eight professors at U.S. institutions won the Nobel awards for chemistry, medicine, and physics.  Indeed,

U.S.-based scientists have now won or shared the Nobel Prize for chemistry in nine of the past ten years, and the physics prize in eight of the past ten years.  I'm gratified that our two guests of honor tonight are helping to sustain American leadership across the frontiers of scientific knowledge.

I should also note that our country's success in Nobel competitions owes a great debt of gratitude to foreign-born scientists who come to our universities.  In fact, the true strength of America's science establishment is in our ability to attract the world's best minds to help us in our efforts to educate our students.  Considering the fact that of this year's Nobel winners associated with U.S. institutions, Dr. Zewail was born in Egypt, Dr. Blobel in Germany, Dr. Mundell in Canada, and Dr. Veltman in the Netherlands, we would do well to recall the wise words of Louis Pasteur, when he said, "Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world."  Pasteur added, "Science is the highest personification of the nation because that nation will remain the first which carries furthest the works of thought and intelligence."

I would like to add my own congratulations to those of the President and Vice President, and I especially wish both Professor Zewail and Professor Blobel God's speed on their way to Stockholm and continued success on their return to research and teaching.  Please join me in letting them know how grateful our nation is for their contributions.

Thank you.

Office of Science and Technology Policy
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W
Washington, DC 20502
Flag BAr
[Home Page][Citizens' Handbook icon][Help Desk]

To comment on this service, send feedback to the Web Development Team.