Inaugural Kavli Laureates Honored In Oslo Ceremony

Fred Kavli addresses the audience at the Kavli Prize Ceremony. (Scanpix)

September 9, 2008

In a ceremony at Oslo Concert Hall, seven pioneering researchers in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience were honored as the first Kavli Prize laureates, receiving a gold medal and scroll from His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon Magnus.

Fred Kavli addresses the audience at the Kavli Prize Ceremony. (Scanpix)

Fred Kavli addresses the audience at the Kavli Prize Ceremony. (Scanpix)

Joining His Royal Highness were representatives of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, the Ministry of Research of Research and Higher Education, and The Kavli Foundation, as well as the chairs of the Kavli Prize committees. Speaking before an international audience that included noted researchers and science leaders, said Fred Kavli, founder of the Kavli Prize and The Kavli Foundation, “We are here today to honor and celebrate our scientists – our prize winners – for their work and their contribution to humanity’s splendid journey. Let these prizes be a token of thanks and gratitude for moving us along the path of greater understanding of the human being, nature, and the universe.”

Ole Didrik Laerum, president of the Academy, also expressed “congratulations, but also deep thanks” to the laureates for their achievements in each of their fields. Minister of Research Tora Aasland noted the laureates -- from three different continents – reflected the international nature of research.

Asked what the laureates shared in the common, in a press conference, Kavli Prize laureate Pasko Rakic noted, "I believe we share a desire to understand ourselves and our universe."

The 2008 Kavli laureates are:

* Astrophysics: Donald Lynden-Bell, University of Cambridge (UK), and Maarten Schmidt, California Institute of Technology (US).

* Nanoscience: Louis Brus, Columbia University (US), and Sumio Iijima, Meijo University (Japan).

* Neuroscience: Sten Grillner, Karolinska Institutet (Sweden), Thomas Jessell, Columbia University (US), and Pasko Rakic, Yale University (US).

Along with a medal and scroll, The Kavli Prize consists of $1,000,000 US for each prize category.

The Kavli Prize is a partnership of The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, The Kavli Foundation and The Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research.


Photographs are available for use by media at:


The Kavli Prize Master of Ceremonies was the Norwegian artist and former Minister of Culture Åse Kleveland, and the awards were accompanied by an extensive artistic programme. Frode Thingnæs had composed a fanfare for the occasion, “The Kavli Prize Opening,” performed by the Kampen Janitsjar marching band. The Oslo Camerata orchestra performed during the ceremony, with solo performances from violinists Catharina and Sara Cheng and trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth. Additional program information can be found at

The Kavli Prize


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