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Nobel laureate lauds potential of Tang Prize

TAIPEI--The Taiwan-based Tang Prize will have a significant impact on the science world as it drives more people to engage in the field, a visiting biologist and Nobel prize winner said Saturday.

Phillip Sharp, who shared the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Richard Roberts, said such prizes can encourage students to get involved in the problems facing the world, governments to put more money to support projects and society to advance.

“Prizes are most useful when they motivate young people and society to advance in particular areas,” the 69-year-old told CNA in an interview.

While the Tang Prize has been dubbed the Asian Nobel Prize, Sharp said it still has a long way to go as the Nobel Prize has “set a very high bar.”

“Prizes take on importance as they are given to people. ... I expect it (Tang Prize) to grow and become increasingly important as the tradition is set down over time. ... I'm sure that's the expectation,” he said.

In about 100 years, the Tang Prize will also accumulate another list of very distinguished people who change society, in addition to bringing in the best scientists and ideas to Taiwan, Sharp added.

Established in 2012 by Taiwanese entrepreneur Samuel Yin, the Tang Prize seeks to honor top researchers in sustainable development, biopharmaceutical science, sinology and rule of law.

The first laureates will be selected based on the originality and impact of their research, irrespective of their nationality and ethnicity.

The winners of the Tang Prize will be announced June 18, with an awards ceremony to take place three months later on Sept. 18. Up to three winners will share a cash prize of NT$50 million (US$1.64 million) for each category.

The biennial prize takes its name from the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907), a period often considered the height of ancient Chinese civilization, characterized by liberal policies and robust cultural activity.

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