To mark Torsten Wiesel’s 90th birthday on 3 June 2014, the Young Academy of Sweden together with Torsten Wiesel were pleased to introduce The Torsten Wiesel Midnight Sun Award for Distinguished Achievement in Promoting Science.
This award will be recurrent and presented to a person(s) or an organization who has done extraordinary work to explain or promote science to the public and/or decision makers. The awardee(s), who can be of any nationality, will be selected by a committee formed by the Young Academy of Sweden following nominations. The award will be presented at a ceremony in Stockholm, which will also include a public lecture.
Taking inspiration from Japan’s “Order of the Rising Sun Award” which Wiesel was awarded in 2009, the concept of the “Midnight Sun Award” relates to the Scandinavian natural phenomenon of the never-setting sun. Born in Sweden in 1924, Torsten received his M.D. at the Karolinska Institute in 1954 and spent over 50 years of his scientific career in the United States.
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David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel 1981.
Torsten Wiesel is a monumental figure in science. Half a century ago, his pioneering research together with David Hubel at Harvard University forever changed our understanding of how the brain perceives the world around us, and the capacity of neural circuits to adapt during development. This work was awarded with the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. In parallel with these and other extraordinary research achievements, Torsten has dedicated his life to scientific leadership at the highest level. Examples include his presidency of the Rockefeller University (1991–1998), leading the Human Frontier Science Program (2000–2009) and chairing the Committee on Human Rights of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (1994–2004).
When the Young Academy of Sweden was founded in 2011, we could not think of a more suitable Scientific Patron than Torsten Wiesel. To our great joy, he accepted and has taken on this role with his customary dedication and enthusiasm. Torsten has participated in several of our events and is an inspiring role model for the 40 young research leaders that make up the Academy, generously contributing experience and advice. Torsten is one of only two Honorary Members elected into the Academy. On the half-centennial of the publication of Wiesel and Hubel’s seminal studies of the functional architecture in the visual cortex, the Young Academy of Sweden organized a symposium in his honor in December 2013 at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. This event brought together international leaders of neuroscience and junior neuroscientists representing young academies from several countries.