On Tuesday, September 9, 2003, at the headquarters of the International Balzan Foundation Prize, in Milan, P.tta U. Giordano 4, announcement was made of the winners of the Balzan Prizes for Science and the Humanities 2003. Each Prize amounts to 1,000,000 Swiss Francs (449,000 or US $ 709,000). The International Balzan Foundation is a European body dedicated to recognising and rewarding outstanding individual achievement - regardless of nationality, race or creed - in science, culture and humanitarian causes through a programme of prestigious annual prizes totalling (from 2001 onwards) 4 million Swiss Francs. It was set up in 1956 by Angela Lina Balzan who, coming into a considerable inheritance on the death of her father, Eugenio Balzan, decided to use the money to honour his memory.
Dr. Wen-hsiung Li was awarded the prize for genetics and evolution for his seminal contributions to the field of evolutionary molecular genetics. He has developed widely used methods for inferring phylogenetic relationships and has made important discoveries about the rate of genetic change in different groups of animals. Dr. Li, born in 1942, received B.E. in civil engineering, Chung-Yung College of Science and Engineering (1965); M.S. in geophysics, National Central University (1968); and Ph.D. in applied mathematics, Brown University (1972). He is now George Wells Beadle Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago. Dr. Li's major interest is in the processes and mechanisms of molecular evolution.