Rome, Italy, July 13, 2016 –Alberto Mantovani, an Italian immunologist, and Helen Macdonald, a British writer, historian and naturalist, were awarded the Premio Letterario of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany literature prize on Tuesday evening in Rome. The jury of 18 international scientists, literature experts and journalists based its decision on the ability of both authors to combine “scientific expertise with a superb literary writing style.” The prize is worth € 10,000 for each recipient. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a science and technology company, has sponsored the prestigious literature prize for the 14th time.

Since 2003, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany has awarded the Premio Letterario of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany to recognize authors who build a bridge between literature and science with their works and further the understanding of science among the general public. In a speech to about 400 guests from art, culture, business and science in Rome, Johannes Baillou, Chairman of the Board of Partners and Vice Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG, Darmstadt, Germany also emphasized the essential role of science and literature for society: “Anyone who sees with just one eye has a one-dimensional view of the world. We do not have a broad view of events until we bring science and literature together.”

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany sees the promotion of literature as part of its social responsibility. In addition to health and the environment, culture is a strategic sphere of activity of the company’s sustainability efforts. The Premio Letterario of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is one of five literature prizes that Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany currently awards or promotes worldwide. In Germany, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany sponsors the Johann Heinrich Merck Award for Literary Critique and Essay of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, which builds bridges between literature and empathetic understanding. By contrast, building bridges between cultures is at the forefront of the literature awards in Japan (Kakehashi Prize of Merck Ltd. Japan, a subsidiary of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany) and India (Tagore Award of Merck India, a subsidiary of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany) and Russia, which Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany grants in cooperation with the Goethe Institut.

The winners
Alberto Mantovani was born in Milan, Italy, in 1948. Today he teaches as a professor of General Pathology at the Humanitas University in Milan and directs the university’s research center. Mantovani has received numerous awards for his scientific work in the field of immunology, including this year alone the Oncology Award of the European Cancer Institutes (OECI) and the Robert Koch Award. The physician regularly authors medical articles for daily newspapers and magazines and is one of Italy’s most quoted scientists. Mantovani is receiving the Premio Letterario Merck of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany for his paper titled “Immunity and vaccines” (ImmunitÓ e vaccini, 2016). In the jury’s opinion, this is a balanced, clear and scientifically founded contribution to the vaccines debate, which is so often conducted in a purely ideological manner. Mantovani takes the readers on a “journey of discovery through the advances in research”.

Helen Macdonald, a British writer, historian and naturalist, teaches at the University of Cambridge in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science. At the age of 12, she received her first hawk and decided to become a falconer. When her father died in 2007, Macdonald resolved to train a goshawk herself. She described her experiences in her novel “H is for Hawk” (2014), combining “strongly naturalistic abilities with literary imagination,” said the jury. In 2014, Macdonald won the Samuel Johnson Prize and the Costa Book Award for “H is for Hawk”.