Torsten Wiesel, President Emeritus and Vincent and Brooke Astor Professor Emeritus, will receive the Karolinska Institute’s Jubilee Gold Medal in recognition of his outstanding contributions to Sweden’s scientific community and to the medical university itself. Wiesel shares the award with Rune Fransson, the institute’s former director. Wiesel and Fransson will be presented with the medals at a ceremony at Karolinska on May 13.
“Through his unusual ability to conduct creative research and develop research environments, Torsten Wiesel has become an exemplar for several generations of medical researchers at Karolinska Institutet,” says the university’s acting vice chancellor Karin Dahlman-Wright.
Wiesel, a neurophysiologist, shared the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with his collaborator David Hubel for their studies on how visual information is transmitted to and processed in the brain’s visual cortex. They also investigated the development of the visual cortex and the role of innate and experiential factors, research that has had important clinical implications, including more effective treatments for congenital cataracts. Wiesel was also a recipient of the National Medal of Science in 2005.
Wiesel received his M.D. from Karolinska Institutet in 1954 and later taught in the institute’s department of physiology and worked in the child psychiatry unit of the Karolinska Hospital. He joined Rockefeller’s faculty in 1983 and served as the university’s president from 1991 to 1998. Since retiring as president, Wiesel has focused on international science advocacy and has worked extensively as a global human rights advocate. He is a founding member of the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies, and he chaired the committee on human rights of the National Academies of Sciences for 10 years. He is currently codirector of the Shelby White and Leon Levy Center for Mind, Brain and Behavior at Rockefeller.
The Karolinska Institute began awarding Jubilee Medals in 2010 to mark the university’s 200th anniversary. That year, Paul Greengard, Vincent Astor Professor and head of the Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, won the institute’s Bicentennial Gold Medal.