The Nobel science prizes reward not only individual researchers but also their universities, a race prestigious United States faculties are winning by far.
Since the Nobel Physics, Chemistry and Medicine Prizes were first created in 1901 and the economics equivalent added in 1969, 710 researchers have won or shared a Nobel, according to an AFP database built on information from the official nobelprize.org site.
Americans are by far the biggest nationality represented in the Nobel science list, with 35 percent (248) born in the US.
However, the domination by American universities becomes even greater when the work of researchers of other nationalities is taken into account.
Some 57 percent of the Nobels have gone to researchers linked to an American university at the time of the prize.
– University of California top –
The University of California sits on the top of the podium, with 38 prizes, of which 13 were for chemistry and 12 for physics.
The first of its laureates was physicist Ernest Lawrence, who won in 1939 inventing the first cyclotron, a particle accelerator which in its modern version is still much in use, especially in medicine to diagnose cancer.
Harvard University is in second place with 33 wins, of which 11 were for medicine and eight in physics.
The highest non-US university is Britain’s Cambridge in third, with its 28 Nobels, including those won by its Laboratory of Molecular Biology.
Nine of the 12 universities which have won more than 10 awards are American. They include Stanford (23 prizes), MIT (20) and Chicago University (19).
After Cambridge, only Germany’s Max Planck Institute with 22 laureates — including two this year — and Britain’s Oxford University (10 winners, including one this year) have managed to join the American-dominated club.
– Rockefeller No. 1 in medicine –
The universities’ ranking differs from prize to prize.
The Nobel Medicine award is dominated by the Rockefeller University which has 13 wins, including that of Charles Rice, one of the three 2020 laureates rewarded for discovering the Hepatitis C virus.
Harvard follows with 12 and Cambridge seven.
France’s Pasteur Institute has also distinguished itself in medicine with four awards, the most recent in 2008 by Francoise Barre-Sinoussi for her role in the discovery of HIV.
The University of California comes at the top of the class both for chemistry — with 13 wins — and for physics with 12.
In second place is the Max-Planck Institute with 12 wins in chemistry with Cambridge taking one less, just ahead of Stanford’s 10 and the California Institute of Technology and Harvard, who both have eight in physics.
The University of Chicago dominates economics with 12 wins followed by California (eight) and Harvard (seven) filling the other top places.
Several less historically prestigious institutions have also made their mark.
Since 2010, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute has won the most prizes, with three in chemistry and three in medicine.