Nov. 25, 2004 Previous | Archive | Next
The Scientist


2004 John Scott Awards - Thomas Starzl and Barry Trost recognized
in awards that aim to reward contributions to mankind

By Maria W. Anderson

Surgeon Thomas E. Starzl and organic chemist Barry M. Trost received the John Scott Award last Friday (November 19) in Philadelphia.

The award is given to men and women whose inventions have contributed in some outstanding way to the "comfort, welfare, and happiness" of mankind, and it was instituted by Edinburgh druggist John Scott in the early 1800s.

"The idea was to reward ingenious men and women who make contributions to humankind," explains Robin Hochstrasser, University of Pennsylvania physical chemist and secretary of the John Scott Medal Advisory Committee. "All the awards that we've given over the years satisfied that criterion," he said.

Starzl, from the University of Pittsburgh, was recognized for his research on liver and kidney transplantation and immunosuppression and for his successful efforts to explain the mechanism of organ engraftment.

"[He] was the person who changed the way medicine is done," both physically and ethically, said Hochstrasser. "The difference in the situation now… is enormous, and it's largely due to him."

Trost, from Stanford University, was honored for discovering new methods of organic synthesis that produce environmentally friendly molecules and compounds, many of which have benefited the drug development industry.

The first awards, given in 1834, honored the inventions of the knitting machine and a door lock. Previous award recipients include Mario Cappechi, Judah Folkman, Jonas Salk, Marie Curie, and Thomas Edison. When asked how he felt to be listed among such great scientists, Starzl said: "It will take a great deal of convincing to make me believe that I belong on that list." Trost, who attended the awards ceremony on Friday but left for Brazil shortly thereafter, was unavailable to comment.

Last Friday's award ceremony, held at the American Philosophical Society, Benjamin Franklin Hall in Philadelphia, was attended by members of the recipients' families, several members of the Philadelphia City Council, and the City Trusts Board of Directors, as well as numerous local scientists and physicians. There the recipients each received a $15,000 prize and a copper medal, the design of which has remained unchanged since the award's inception 170 years ago.

Links for this article

Thomas E. Starzl
Barry M. Trost
John Scott Award
Robin M. Hochstrasser
D. Bruce, "2002 John Scott Awards," The Scientist, November 22, 2002.