The trophy includes an ornamental replica of the staff of Aesculapius, the ancient Greek symbol of medicine. The piece shows a golden snake, with diamonds for eyes, entwined around a staff. The trophy was designed and produced by Simons Jewellers.
The Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Medicine recognises pioneering work in medicine and is awarded to a researcher whose achievements have led or are expected to lead to an important application in medical practice.
The prize consists of 200,000 US Dollars and a trophy; it is funded by the Alfred Heineken Fondsen Foundation. The prize was established in 1989 and is awarded every two years.
‘I’m probably a frustrated medical researcher. I would have liked to find a cure for cancer.’ Alfred Heineken’s admiration for scientific endeavour extended in particular to the field of medicine. So, it came as no surprise when he established the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Medicine.
Alfred Heineken felt that medical researchers in particular were not being given the recognition they deserved. Of his own work as an entrepreneur he said: ‘Brewing beer is fun, but the eradication of disease is of a different order.’
His fascination for the medical world was prompted partly by his interest in people in general. What drives us? To what extent do our genes determine our paths in life? Alfred Heineken was inspired by the constant flow of discoveries in this field and medicine never lost his interest. He regarded the prize for medicine as an accolade for scientists seeking to unravel the workings of the human body.
Winners of the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Medicine that have gone on to win Nobel Prizes: Paul C. Lauterbur, Luc Montagnier, Barry J. Marshall, Eric R. Kandel, Elizabeth H. Blackburn and Ralph M. Steinman.