The Demidov Prize (Russian: Демидовская премия) is a national scientific prize in the Russian Empire awarded annually to the members of the Russian Academy of Sciences. One of the most prestigious and oldest scientific awards in the world, its traditions influenced other awards of this kind including the Nobel Prize. The Demidov Prize was restored by the government of the Sverdlovsk Oblast in 1993.
In 1831 Pavel Nikolaevich Demidov, representative of the famous Demidov family, established a scientific prize in his name. The Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences (now the Russian Academy of Sciences) was chosen as the awarding institution. In 1832 the president of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences, Sergei Uvarov, awarded the first prizes.
From 1832 to 1866 the Academy awarded 55 full prizes (5,000 rubles) and 220 part prizes. Among the winners were many prominent Russian scientists: the founder of field surgery and inventor of the plaster immobilisation method in treatment of fractures, Nikolai Pirogov; the seafarer and geographer Adam Johann von Krusenstern; the creator of the periodic table of elements, Dmitri Mendeleev; the inventor of the electric engine, Boris Yakobi; and many others.
From 1866, 25 years after Pavel Demidov's death and according to the terms of his bequest, there were no more awards.
In 1993, on the initiative of the vice-president of the Russian Academy of Sciences Gennady Mesyats and the governor of the Sverdlovsk Oblast Eduard Rossel, the Demidov Prize traditions were restored. The prize is awarded for outstanding achievements in natural sciences and humanities. The winners are elected annually among the members of the Russian Academy of Sciences. According to the tradition every year the Demidov Scientific Foundation chooses three or four academicians to receive the award. The prize includes a medal, a diploma and $10,000. The awards ceremony takes place every year at the Governor's Palace of Sverdlovsk Oblast, in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The recipients of the Prize also give lectures at the Ural State University (Demidov Lecture).
- (in Russian) N. A. Mezenin: Лауреаты Демидовских премий Петербургской Академии наук. Л., Наука, 1987.
- (in Russian) Yuri Alexandrovich Sokolov, Zoya Antonovna Bessudnova, L. T. Prizhdetskaya: Отечественные действительные и почетные члены Российской академии наук 18-20 вв. Геология и горные науки.- М.: Научный мир, 2000.