The International Latsis Foundation
A non-profit institution serving the public good, the Foundation was established in 1975 under the aegis of John S. Latsis in recognition of the welcome he and his family received in Switzerland. It was initially based in Fribourg from 1975 to 1990, and moved to Geneva thereafter. His son Spiro J. Latsis suggested that the foundation should become a means of rewarding scientific research in all fields. The humanities, social sciences, philosophy, economics, anthropology and linguistics, which are often less favoured, were therefore included in the scope of the International Latsis Foundation from the start. From 1975 to 1983, the project was fine-tuned by forging links with some of the most innovative institutions of higher education and universities in Switzerland. The contacts formed over the early years established the basis of what was to become today’s institution.
By 1983, the concept was up and running. It focused on two areas: awarding prizes to exceptional researchers below the age of forty, and providing financial support for the organisation of two annual symposia, one at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Zurich (ETHZ) and the other at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).
The Foundation operates without sponsors or fundraising campaigns, on the basis of funds donated by John S. Latsis. Thanks to him and his successors, this recognition of the laureates’ personal determination and extraordinary performance has encouraged many researchers to build their careers in research and academia.
The Latsis University Prizes
Every year, the four Latsis University Prizes of CHF 25,000 each are awarded individually by four universities (the Universities of Geneva and St. Gallen, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Zurich (ETHZ) and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) on the occasion of their respective Dies Academicus’. The applications are submitted directly to the research commissions of these institutions which, after a rigorous selection process, select the winners. The Latsis University Prizes are a powerful vehicle for both professional and public recognition, providing international visibility to the winners.
Since 1994, the Latsis Prize ceremony has been held at the University of Geneva. It brings together the four prize-winners to honour them, introduce them to the public, and present them with a gift as a souvenir of the event. It is followed by a keynote address by some of the leading figures in contemporary society. Over the years, speakers have included Professor Georges Charpak, Mr Jacques Delors, Ms Carla Del Ponte, Ms Ariana Huffington and President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, to name a few.
The European Latsis Prize
For thirteen years, the Foundation awarded the European Latsis Prize worth CHF 100’000, until the European Science Foundation in Strasbourg was dissolved in 2013. This prize has served as an important stepping stone for scientific and academic careers.
The ”Prix Latsis National” becomes the « Prix Scientifique Suisse Latsis »
Created in 1984, the Prix Latsis National (National Latsis Prize), now known as the “Prix Scientifique Suisse Latsis”, is awarded by the Research Council of the Swiss National Science Foundation. Since 2020, this prestigious prize of CHF 100,000 has been awarded at a joint ceremony with the Marcel Benoist Foundation, which honours researchers of all ages.