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President of Academia Sinica wins Wolf Prize in Chemistry

TAIPEI -- The president of Academia Sinica (中央研究院), Taiwan's highest academic institution, was awarded the Wolf Prize in Chemistry Friday for his contributions to the development of programmable and applied synthesis of complex oligosaccharides and glycol proteins.

Chi-Huey Wong (翁啟惠) said at a press conference Friday after winning the prize that it should be credited to the complete education he received in Taiwan and the friendly environment the Academica Sinica provides for cross-field cooperation.

Wong, who returned to Taiwan from the United States to serve as director of the Genomics Research Center at Academia Sinica in 2003, said the institution provides the opportunities to develop anti-bacterial and anti-cancer drugs and many new findings, as well as helping facilitate cooperation among scientists from various disciplines and countries.

The Wolf Prize has international prestige and in the sciences is considered second in importance only to the Nobel Prize. Over 33 Wolf Prize recipients have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in the fields of science honored by both prizes (medicine, physics and chemistry).

The prize has been awarded since 1978 by the Wolf Foundation, which was established in 1976 by Dr. Ricardo Wolf (1887-1981), an inventor, diplomat and philanthropist, and his wife Francisca Subirana-Wolf (1900-1981), to promote science and art for the benefit of mankind.

It is awarded annually in six areas. In science, the fields are agriculture, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, physics, while in the arts, the prize rotates annually among architecture, music, painting and sculpture. The prize in each area consists of a diploma and a cash award of US$100,000.

Wong is the third scientist born in Taiwan to have won the prize since 1991 when Academia Sinica academician Shang Fa Yang was awarded the prize in agriculture. Academia Sinica academician Shing-Tung Yau was awarded the 2010 Wolf Foundation Prize in mathematics.

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