Professors Balzani and Oganessian to receive first UNESCO-Russia Mendeleev International Prize in the Basic Sciences

Professor Vincenzo Balzani (Italy) and Professor Yuri Oganessian (Russian Federation) will be awarded the first UNESCO-Russia Mendeleev International Prize in the Basic Sciences. The decision was made on the recommendation of an eminent international jury chaired by Professor Jean-Pierre Sauvage, winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Vincenzo Balzani (Italy)

Emeritus Professor of Chemistry, University of Bologna.
Recognized for the lasting impact of his outstanding scientific achievements in basic chemical sciences and his career-long efforts to promote international cooperation, science education and sustainable development.
Professor Balzani pioneered inorganic photochemistry and supramolecular photochemistry. He has also made great contributions to science education and to reflection on science as a driver to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and on the relationship between science and society, science and peace.

Yuri Oganessian (Russian Federation)

Professor, Scientific Director.
Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions, Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Dubna.
Recognized for his breakthrough discoveries that extend the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements and for his promotion of the basic sciences at global scale.
Professor Oganessian’s work played a leading role in the synthesis and study of new chemical elements of the periodic table. He has driven major developments in international scientific cooperation that led, inter alia, to the discovery of superheavy elements like the one with atomic number 118 named after him as Oganesson.
The laureates will receive the Prize at a ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris on 15 November, during the 41st session of the Organization’s General Conference.


I want to express my warmest congratulations to the two winners, Professor Balzani and Professor Oganessian. Their achievements portray the inestimable value of the basic sciences to the advancement of international scientific cooperation, the building of our collective knowledge and to sustainable development following the footsteps of Dmitry Mendeleev. We need to continue increasing their large diffusion in the society at a time when the world and UNESCO are moving towards Open science
Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General

Russia historically pays special attention to the development of fundamental sciences. This arduous research does not bring quick results, but is the basis of many innovative achievements and modern technologies. Breakthrough discoveries are made possible by the fortitude and persistence of scientists and research teams. Someone’s scientific courage and passion for exploration stands behind every invention, every new technology. The Prize named after the great Russian scientist Dmitry Mendeleev is an incentive and an honorable reward for researchers who make discoveries for the benefit of all mankind
Valery Falkov, Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation


About the UNESCO-Russia Mendeleev International Prize in the Basic Sciences

Established as a follow up of the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements in 2019, the UNESCO-Russia Mendeleev International Prize in the Basic Sciences was created to foster scientific progress, science popularization and international cooperation in the basic sciences. The Prize honours the remarkable scientific heritage of Dimitri Mendeleev, father of the Periodic Table, whose work was fundamental to the development of chemistry, physics, biology, aeronautics, hydrodynamics, meteorology and astronomy as well as what is now termed sustainable development. Dmitri Mendeleev’s version of the periodic table of 1869 contained gaps in places where he believed unknown elements would fit, thereby, challenging the generations to come to follow in his footsteps for the progress of science and the betterment of humankind. Since then, the Periodic Table has been continuously supplemented as scientists identify and synthesize new elements, mainly through international scientific cooperation.

The Prize is awarded annually to two individuals for their breakthrough discoveries or outstanding innovations driving, or with potential to drive, socio-economic transformation and development of human societies, and for their dedicated promotion of basic science. Each laureate receives a monetary award of US $250,000, a gold medal and a diploma.

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