Just last night (September 19), the 2018 Tang Prize laureates gathered together at the opening event of the prize week—the Tang Prize Reception. New for 2018, the reception was held at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, alongside the exhibition showcasing the achievements of the laureates. The event opened with a stimulating performance of Thai music by the Taiwan Bamboo Orchestra, expressing honor and gratitude to the laureates.
Greeting these guests from abroad, prize founder Samuel Yin said in his opening address that human development and its impact on the earth over the past 300 years has been very rapid. In this modern global community, the Tang Prize was founded for the purpose of engaging with the times and in the hope of passing down a better world to the future generations. The founder was followed on stage by Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je, who expressed his honor on behalf of Taipei City in hosting the prize in its third awarding. Over the past three prize years, Taipei has been host to the many events of the Tang Prize; during the events, past laureates have had a chance to better know the development of Taipei and the good nature of its citizenry.
The night was the first time these eight laureates or representatives had been under the same roof. Laureates included Veerabhadran Ramanathan and James E. Hansen in Sustainable Development; Tony Hunter and Brian J. Druker in Biopharmaceutical Science; Stephen Owen and Yoshinobu Shiba in Sinology; and Joseph Raz in Rule of Law. The third recipient in Biopharmaceutical Science, John Mendelsohn, was unable to attend, though he was represented at the event by his son, Jeff Mendelsohn.
Several guests joined the welcoming atmosphere in the halls of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall: Shu Chien, Academician of the Academia Sinica and Professor at University of California San Diego—who is the acting chairman of the Tang Prize Selection Committee; President Boris Vladimirovich Gusev of the Moscow-based International Academy of Engineering and the Russian Academy of Engineering; representative Ji Wei-de of the Netherlands Trade and Investment Office; Director Benoit Guidee of the La France à Taiwan; Deputy Executive Director Rupert Cao of the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei; Vice Presidents Chin-shing Huang and Fu-Tong Liu of the Academia Sinica; and many representatives from the academic and private sector.
Before the reception proper, the laureates were given the chance to relax and get to know one another and share their reaction to being announced as a recipient of the Tang Prize. Tony Hunter, one of three joint laureates in Biopharmaceutical Science, said that he had never been to Taiwan before that night, but even in the US he had heard of Taiwan’s reputation for research in the basic sciences. Now, to have his research on cancer treatment over the past decades be recognized by the Tang Prize was an especial honor, he said, as well as a hopeful sign for future research. Joseph Raz, sole laureate in Rule of Law, said that the award was a great honor. The award recognizes research and exerts a positive influence on society, Raz said, and supports scholars in their work.
In the background of the formal gathering was the Glory of the Tang Prize Exhibition, which gives visitors an immersive experience of the Tang Prize, its laureates, its medal and diploma, and the four fields (Sustainable Development, Biopharmaceutical Science, Sinology, and Rule of Law). New for 2018 are interactive areas for each prize field that bring the visitor, no matter the age, closer to the abstract or complex concepts for which the laureates are awarded in a variety of methods. The event will run from September 7 to October 28 at the central hall of National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Taipei, and at the National Science & Technology Museum in Taiwan’s southern city of Kaohsiung, from November 2 to January 27.