Eight Scholars Awarded 2018 Tang Prize, the Most Laureates Ever

  • 2018 Tang Prize Laureates
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2018 Tang Prize are awarded to James E. Hansen and Veerabhadran Ramanathan in Sustainable Development; Tony Hunter, Brian J. Druker, and John Mendelsohn in Biopharmaceutical Science; Stephen Owen and Yoshinobu Shiba in Sinology; Joseph Raz in Rule of Law. Total of eight laureates from the States and Europe in four prize categories.


Sustainable Development: Sound the Alarm on Climate Change and Impact of Air Pollution


Dr. James E. Hansen, former Director of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and Professor Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Council of Pontifical Academy of Sciences are co-recipients of the 2018 Tang Prize in Sustainable Development for their pioneering work on climate change and its impact on the sustainability of the earth.


Dr. Hansen developed one of the first two global three-dimensional climate models, GISS, in the world, and was first to analyze and quantitatively explained the climate system's global temperature response in terms of specific changes caused by water vapor, cloud, surface-albedo feedback interactions. Dr. Hansen was the first to compile temperature records from around the world and was the first to detect the greenhouse warming signal as it emerged above the noise (natural variability).


Professor Veerabhadran Ramanathan was born in Madras (now Chennai), India. Professor Ramanathan was the first to point out the very significant greenhouse effects of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). His pioneering research also led to the discovery and characterization of the so-called “Atmospheric Brown Cloud.” This work established the extremely important role played by atmospheric black carbon as a greenhouse compound, second only to carbon dioxide. He and other colleagues shined light on “non-CO2” greenhouse gases-a concept that is now widely acknowledged. Chief among them are methane, nitrous oxide, and tropospheric ozone. As a consequence of these contributions, the governments of Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden and the United States, together with the United Nations Environment Programme, created the “Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutants”; 33 countries have subsequently joined the coalition.


Biopharmaceutical Science: Facilitate Targeted Cancer Therapies


Dr. Tony Hunter, Dr. Brian J. Druker, and Dr. John Mendelsohn are the recipients of the 2018 Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Science. These three renowned American scholars are awarded for the discovery of protein tyrosine phosphorylation and tyrosine kinases as oncogenes, leading to successful targeted cancer therapies.


Dr. Tony Hunter, Professor of Biology at the Salk Institute, is the British-American scientist who discovered tyrosine phosphorylation and that the oncogene Src is a tyrosine kinase (TK). This discovery is nothing less than saying Dr. Hunter gave birth to the field of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), which are prototypes of targeted cancer therapies. Its emergence made a milestone of cancer therapy.


Dr. Brian Druker, Director of Oregon Health Sciences University Knight Cancer Institute, is the physician scientist who led the successful clinical trial of imatinib (Gleevec®) on chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). The disease that used to be treated by bone marrow transplantation is now curable by orally administrated drugs. Gleevec® increases patients’ survival rate from 50% to 90%. It’s been considered the most successful targeted cancer therapy drug in the 21st century.


Dr. John Mendelsohn, President Emeritus of MD Anderson Cancer Center, took another approach while at UC San Diego working with Dr. Gordon Sato. They conceived the idea that antibodies targeting epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) may be an effective strategy for cancer treatment. Dr. Mendelsohn and his team conducted preclinical research and proceeded to develop the anti-EGFR antibody cetuximab (Erbitux®). His effort to promote it into clinics eventually won the approval of the US FDA for the treatment of colon cancer and head/neck cancer. This was the first clinically approved therapy based on receptor tyrosine kinase-targeting antibody and a trail-blazer which has spurred many others to follow.



Sinology: American and Japanese Masters in Chinese Studies


Professor Stephen Owen (US) and Professor Yoshinobu Shiba (Japan) are awarded 2018 Tang Prize in Sinology.


Professor Owen has been the single most important scholar of Chinese Classical poetry and a leading scholar on Tang poetry studies and translation. Library of Chinese Humanities series initiated and edited by Owen, makes important Chinese texts available in facing-page translations, both in hardcover editions and also free on the web. Owen’s Library of Chinese Humanities series will bring philologically rigorous translations of Chinese literature to a broader readership.


Professor Shiba has been the leading authority on Chinese social-economic history. His scholarship innovatively synthesizes the strengths of the Japanese Sinological tradition with that of the Western social sciences, while skillfully making use of a variety of Chinese primary sources, adeptly merging the distinctive fortes of these three academic traditions. His breakthrough insights in the study of Chinese history, particularly in Song studies, make him a foremost exemplar to emulate. Shiba’s novel findings culminated in his 1988 book entitled, Sodai konan keizai shi no kenkyū (宋代江南経済史の研究), which roughly translates to a study of the economic history of Jiangnan in the Song Dynasty. This book became a must to anyone who studies Song Dynasty in the West.



Rule of Law: Renowned Legal Philosopher Joseph Raz

The 2018 Tang Prize in Rule of Law is awarded to Joseph Raz, one of the foremost legal philosophers of our time, for his path-breaking contributions to the rule of law, and for deepening out understanding of the very nature of law, legal reasoning, and the relationship between law, morality and freedom.


Born in 1939, Raz started his philosophical pursuits at an early age. Raz taught in the Hebrew University, Jerusalem for five years, in 1972 he returned to Oxford, where he spent most of his teaching and researching years. From 2002 onwards he has been professor in Columbia Law School in New York, and from 2011 he has been Research Professor in King’s College London.


An acute, inventive, and energetic thinker and writer, Raz has been making major contributions in literally every area in analytical legal, moral and political philosophy. Through rigor of thinking and analysis, he dissects complex and abstract legal concepts into clear-cut methodologies of general application, shedding light on fundamental aspects of perennial issues relating to the source and normativity of law, the idea of legal system, the nature of authority, autonomy and liberalism. Addressing the inter-relationship between law and morality, authority and individual freedom, common good and pluralistic values, in his more recent writings, he extends his key ideas to contemporary questions in democracy and human rights, bringing out new aspects which emerge only after thorough analysis.