2002 News Story

Winners of 1423 King Faisal Prize announced

The winners of this year's King Faisal International Prize, the 26th since its inception, were announced yesterday in three of the five categories. The award for Service to Islam will be announced later; that for Arabic literature (on the topic of definitions of literary and critical terms of Arabic literature) was withheld, with no candidate qualifying.

The prize for Islamic studies in the topic of the history of Islamic economics was jointly won by Professor Izz El-Din Omer Mousa of the Sudan and Professor Ibrahim Abu Bakr Harakat of Morocco.

The prize for science in the topic of chemistry was jointly won by Professor of Chemistry at the University of California Marion Frederick Hawthorne of the United States; and Centennial Professor of Chemistry at New York's Columbia University Koji Nakanishi of Japan.

The prize for medicine on the topic of breast cancer is jointly awarded to Professor Axel Ullrich of Germany, who is Director of the Department of Molecular Biology at the Max-Planck Institute for Biochemistry; and Professor Umberto Veronesi of Italy, who is Scientific Director of the European Institute of Oncology in Milan.

The topics for 1424 are, in medicine, invasive cardiology; in science, biology; in Arabic language and literature, the preservation of classical Arabic to the end of the fifth hijrah century; and in Islamic studies, the basis of Islamic jurisprudence. The deadline for all nominations is May 31, 2003.

In a statement on the occasion, Governor of Asir Province Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, who is chairman of the Foundation, commented: "We say to all those who speak about the conflict of cultures that we believe that civilization belongs to humanity in the East and the West. Civilizations did not come from vacuum, but as a result of the efforts by our predecessors who came before us. From this place we stretch out our hands to everyone who wants to join us to build the future civilization for mankind."



Professor Mousa received the Islamic studies award for his authoritative book 'Economic Activity in the Maghrib in the 6th Century Hijrah'. This detailed work, characterized by its precise methodology and objectivity, is a reliable resource for researchers interested in economic life in the Maghrib more than 800 years ago.

Professor Harakat’s research on Islamic economics between the 1st and 9th century Hijrah is distinctive for its holistic view of Islamic economic history as reflected on society. Professor Harakat compares Islamic economic concepts with those of the Christian world. In his nominated book, he revisits earlier arguments by European researchers with regard to the Islamic community and economy and emphasizes Islam’s impact on world economy.

Professor Hawthorne is one of the most creative and productive chemists in the world. His research extends over many fields, ranging from the syntheses of new compounds to novel therapies for cancer. He has been influential in the field of boron chemistry, particularly in its industrial applications to catalysis of polymerization. Professor Hawthorne's research could lead to the development of a "silver bullet" to target cancerous cells for destruction while sparing healthy ones. Such an achievement would have a profound impact on cancer therapy.

Professor Nakanishi, an equally eminent chemist, has a wide field of scientific accomplishments. His research in biologically active natural products has exceptional scientific and economic value. He has established the properties and elucidated the structures of many chemical compounds including antibiotics, carcinogenic materials, and anticancer products. Professor Nakanishi's recent research concentrates on the interaction of light with the molecules responsible for vision. These studies are likely to accelerate the development of a treatment for macular degeneration, which afflicts many elderly people and leads to the loss of sight.

Professor Ullrich is widely regarded for his outstanding contributions to the study of the molecular biology of breast cancer. Over the last 20 years he and his colleagues have demonstrated the role of tyrosine kinase receptors as growth promoters for cancerous cells. Their discovery of the HER-2 oncogene in 1985 led to the subsequent description of its amplification. In 1990 his description of a monoclonal antibody to the EGF receptor led to the development of Herceptin, the first clinically effective monoclonal antibody now in use worldwide. More recently, his research has extended to other areas of receptor target interactions of relevance to angiogenesis.

Over the past three decades Professor Veronesi has pioneered a revolution in the management of breast cancer. His pivotal role in demonstrating the safety of a wide resection followed by radiotherapy spared countless of women from mastectomy and its consequences. In further research, ways to improve the quality of life of breast cancer patients, he developed axillary-sparing sentinal node dissection to prevent lymphoedema. Recently he has been engaged in developing intra operative radiotherapy. This greatly shortens the time for multi-modality therapy. Throughout his long and distinguished career he has fostered multi-disciplinary research. His leadership in this has been recognized by his election as president of many societies, including the Federation of European Cancer Societies, EORTC (European Organization for the Research and Treatment of Cancer) and IUCC (International Union Against Cancer). Professor Veronesi's commitment to treating and training is reflected in his founding of the European School of Oncology, which this year celebrated its 20th anniversary.