The Pan-European Empress Theophano Prize

The awarding of Dr Uğur Şahin and Dr Özlem Türeci, the scientist couple who developed the first vaccine against the coronavirus, brings to Thessaloniki outstanding figures from politics, diplomacy, justice, science and culture.

In a magnificent Award Ceremony that will take place in Thessaloniki, in the emblematic Rotunda monument, on Wednesday the 13th of October 2021, the Empress Theophano Prize will be awarded to the scientist couple who developed the first vaccine against the coronavirus, Dr Uğur Şahin and Dr Özlem Türeci.

HE the President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou will honour the Ceremony with her presence and address the distinguished guests, while this year’s Prize will bring for the first time to Thessaloniki almost every member of the Advisory and Governing Council of the Foundation, from across Europe. Among them, visiting Greece and Thessaloniki to honour the Award Ceremony with their presence are Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland, Tarja Halonen, former President of Finland, Rita Süssmuth, former President of the Bundestag of Germany, Karl Prince zu Schwarzenberg, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, and Sir Ivan Rogers, former UK Ambassador to the EU.

The 2021 Empress Theophano Prize focuses on the critical role of science in society and on its contribution to the Common Good. The Governing and Advisory Councils of the Theophano Foundation chose to showcase science’s decisive and vital intervention when critical conditions arise, improving human lives. And this very contribution of science is acknowledged in the form of the couple who developed the very first vaccine against the novel coronavirus, Dr Uğur Şahin and Dr Özlem Türeci. Setting an example and motivating young people everywhere, the two scientists have demonstrated solid and persistent efforts to resolve an unprecedented health crisis, dedication to the Common Good, and high quality of research and expertise, leading to a discovery that has given hope not only to Europe, but to Humankind.

At the same time, in the context of this year’s ceremony and in the presence of these leading personalities from across Europe, the Governing and the Advisory Councils of the Theophano Foundation, chaired by Mr Stavros Andreadis and President Herman Count Van Rompuy respectively, have decided to establish a new institution: the Theophano Round Table – a discussion panel on key topics of concern for humanity in the decades to come, related to and inspired by each year’s prize. This year’s event will take place on Thursday the 14th of October, under the title Securing Future Wellbeing Through Science and focusing on themes related to science for the Common Good, science and innovation in Europe, science and competitiveness, science and education, and science and healthy living. The two prize recipients’ participation in this discussion is anticipated with piqued interest; they will be conversing with selected members of the Advisory Committee, who will develop the subject from various viewpoints (detailed information on the programme is soon to be released).

Since its establishment, the Empress Theophano Foundation has set the goal of rewarding individuals and organisations for their impact on the understanding and strengthening of the contemporary European Idea, and their contribution to the social good, welfare and improvement of lives. Continuing its course that started last year with a focus on Education and the ERASMUS Student Exchange Programme, the Empress Theophano Prize aims to be established, year by year, as a notable means of highlighting those members of society that contribute to cooperation and facing the challenges of contemporary era within the European framework and beyond.

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