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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 9, 2002
Phillip G. Torrez (510) 987-9205
Five UC Faculty Awarded National Medals of Science
President Bush today (Thursday, May 9) named five University
of California faculty recipients of the National Medal of
Science, the nation's highest award for lifetime achievement
in fields of scientific research.
The faculty are Francisco J. Ayala of UC Irvine, Marvin L.
Cohen of UC Berkeley, Charles D. Keeling of Scripps Institution
of Oceanography at UC San Diego, Gabor A. Somorjai of UC Berkeley
and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Harold E. Varmus
of UC San Francisco.
"The entire University of California community takes
enormous pride in the National Medals of Science that have
been awarded to members of the UC faculty this year,"
said UC President Richard C. Atkinson. "These awards
are a testament not only to the extraordinary scientific accomplishments
of these individuals, but to the tremendous impact the University
of California has on our state and nation.
"UC faculty members have received more than 10 percent
of the National Medals of Science awarded over the program's
history, but this indeed has been a banner year. The range
of disciplines represented among the recipients is an indication
of the strength of UC's research programs across the entire
range of societys needs."
The five UC researchers were among 14 scientists and one
engineer who were awarded National Medals of Science for 2001.
They will be presented their medals at a White House ceremony
in the near future.
With today's honorees, 48 researchers affiliated with the
University of California and three national laboratories UC
manages for the federal government have received Medals of
Science since Congress created the award in 1959. It marks
the second time that five medals in one year were awarded
to UC faculty; the first occurred in 1983.
"Each one of these individuals has helped advance our
country's place as a leader in discovery, creativity and technology,"
President Bush said in making the announcement in Washington.
"Their contributions have touched all of our lives and
will continue to do so."
The White House noted that six of the honorees have made
"lasting and continuing contributions to a burgeoning
list of discoveries and technology breakthroughs in the biological
sciences" and four have pioneered studies of genetics,
"a rapidly expanding area of research which has been
bolstered by their discoveries."
Ayala, awarded a Medal of Science in biological science,
"revolutionized molecular biology in the study of the
origins of species," according to the White House announcement.
Ayala, 68, the Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences,
has been at UC Irvine since 1987.
Cohen and Keeling were honored in physical sciences. Cohen,
67, a UC faculty member since 1964, has "had a major
impact on semiconductor technology through his work in materials
science," while Keeling, 74, affiliated with Scripps
since 1956, has "pioneered studies on the impact of the
carbon cycle to changes in climate, collecting some of the
most important data in the study of global climate change."
Somorjai, 67, a chemistry honoree who joined the Berkeley
faculty in 1964, was honored "as the world's leading
authority in the development of modern surface science, having
established the molecular foundation of many surface-based
Varmus, 61, who is president of Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
in New York City, was cited for his discovery with UCSF Chancellor
J. Michael Bishop that "normal human and animal cells
contain genes capable of becoming cancer genes,which led to
an aggressive and successful search for genetic origins of
cancer by the scientific community."
Varmus and Bishop shared the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1989
for their research at UCSF. Varmus, appointed a professor
in 1979, left UCSF in 1993 to serve as director of the National
Institutes of Health. He retains his faculty appointment in
UCSF's department of microbiology and immunology.
All five of the researchers are members of the prestigious
National Academy of Sciences. Cohen and Somorjai are University
Professors, the highest honor that can bestowed on UC faulty.
The National Science Foundation administers the National
Medal of Science for the White House. The 2001 awards bring
to 401 the total number of science medals awarded since their
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To read the official announcement of the 2001 National Medals
of Science, please go to:
For more information on National Medals of Science, please