James E. Rothman, the American professor who won the 2013 Nobel Prize for Medicine on Monday, said that the King Faisal International Prize (KFIP) has become a “gateway for winning the Nobel Prize.”
He cited examples of numerous scientists who had won the KFIP before going on to win the Nobel Prize. Rothman was the KFIP recipient in 1996 for his outstanding work in the field of biology.
“Saudi Arabia and the King Faisal Foundation (KFF) should be proud of having recognized not only myself, but two other eventual Nobel Prize winners in medicine or physiology,” said Rothman, referring to professor Gunter Blobel, who was conferred the KFIP in 1996. Blobel won the Nobel Prize in 1999. A total of 17 KFIP winners, including Rothman, have become Nobel Prize laureates so far, which symbolizes the importance and credibility of the KFIP.
Speaking to Arab News from the United States on Wednesday, Rothman, who has been awarded the Nobel Prize for research into how the cell organizes its transport system, said that most of the KFIP laureates went on to win the Nobel Prize. “It was my pleasure to receive the KFIP in Saudi Arabia. My wife and I have fond memories of the warm and generous hospitality we received at that time.”
He also stressed the need for Arab immigrant scientists in the US and Europe to connect with their native countries so they could contribute effectively to the development of their communities.
The KFF congratulated Rothman in a statement, saying, “Rothman’s name is added to the list of those who were awarded the KFIP.”
Founded in 1977, the KFIP is a major international humanitarian project of KFF established by the late King Faisal’s sons to commemorate their father’s efforts in promoting science and humanity. The KFIP’s rigorous procedures in selecting the winners have earned the committee the esteem of scientific and academic communities around the globe.
Merit and excellence alone are the criteria for the selection of KFIP winners. Each of the five KFIP prize categories consists of a certificate handwritten in Arabic calligraphy summarizing the laureate’s work, a commemorative 24-carat 200-gram gold medal uniquely cast for each prize and a cash award of SR750,000.

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