Lieben Prize

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The Ignaz Lieben Prize is an annual Austrian award made by the Austrian Academy of Sciences to young scientists working in the fields of molecular biology, chemistry, or physics.

The Ignaz Lieben Prize has been called the Austrian Nobel Prize. It is similar in intent but somewhat older than the Nobel Prize. The Austrian merchant Ignaz L. Lieben, whose family supported many philanthropic activities, had stipulated in his testament that 6,000 florins should be used “for the common good”. In 1863 this money was given to the Austrian Imperial Academy of Sciences, and the Ignaz L. Lieben Prize was instituted. Every three years, the sum of 900 florins was to be given to an Austrian scientist in the field of chemistry, physics, or physiology. This sum corresponded to roughly 40 per cent of the annual income of a university professor.

From 1900 on, the prize was offered on a yearly basis. The endowment was twice increased by the Lieben family. When the endowment had lost its value due to inflation after World War I, the family transferred the necessary sum yearly to the Austrian Academy of Sciences. But since the family was persecuted by the National Socialists, the prize was discontinued after the German Anschluss of Austria in 1938.

In 2004 the Lieben prize was reinstated, with support from Isabel Bader and Alfred Bader (who was able to flee from Austria to Great Britain at the age of fourteen in 1938). Now, the award amounts to US Dollar 36,000, and it is offered yearly to young scientists who work in Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia or Slovenia (i.e., in one of the countries that were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire a hundred years ago), and who work in the fields of molecular biology, chemistry, or physics.

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