Ulf  von Euler (1972) - Alfred Nobel and the Foundation (German Presentation)

Ulf von Euler (1972)

Alfred Nobel and the Foundation (German Presentation)

Ulf von Euler (1972)

Alfred Nobel and the Foundation (German Presentation)

Comment

As a newly created Nobel laureate of 1970, Ulf von Euler was invited to the meeting in Lindau 1972 along with other laureates in physiology or medicine. But while the others gave talks on their fields of scientific study, von Euler this first time choose to relate to his role as chairman of the Board of the Nobel Foundation with a talk on “Alfred Nobel and the Foundation”. As son of the 1929 Nobel laureate in chemistry, Hans von Euler-Chelpin, who attended several Lindau meetings in the 1950’s, it may be assumed that von Euler had heard stories about the meetings from his father. But he should also have become aware of them through his involvement with the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. He was a member of this committee from 1953 to 1960, the last two years acting as chairman. For five years he then took on the job as secretary of the committee after record holder Göran Liljestrand, who spent 42 years in that position (as mentioned in the lecture). It was in 1965 that von Euler became chairman of the Board of the Nobel Foundation, a position he held for ten years. His talk first follows the authorized biography of Alfred Nobel, published in the 1920’s by Henrik Schück and Nobel’s former assistant Ragnar Sohlman (who in 1929 became the third executive director of the Nobel Foundation, not the first as wrongly stated in the lecture). Then von Euler, with a lot of personal insight and humour, describes the procedure followed by the Nobel Prize awarding institutions. He doesn’t shy away from the problematic questions, such as the age of the Nobel laureates, the lack of women among them and other criticisms that appear in varying degrees almost every year. It is probably no coincidence that during Ulf von Euler’s chairmanship an extensive revision of the Statutes of the Nobel Foundation was carried through.

Anders Bárány

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