Sidney prize is a yearly award for outstanding global voices in the promotion of peace, justice and nonviolence. It was established by the Sydney Peace Foundation at the University of Sydney in partnership with the City of Sydney to honour the commitment and achievements of individuals and groups around the world who have made a positive impact on the lives of others.
This prize is awarded to an individual who has shaped and advanced the aspirations in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. This document calls for a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Australian Constitution, and is an important statement in the ongoing discussion about Indigenous rights, and the importance of establishing an inclusive path to peace within our community. The award is voted on by the community and is presented to the winner at an official ceremony in November every year.
The Prize has been awarded since 1950 to journalists, writers and public figures who pursue investigative journalism and public policy in service of the common good. It has been awarded to a diverse range of writers, including: Patrick Dodson; Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Arundhati Roy; Mary Robinson; Noam Chomsky; Naomi Klein; Professor Joseph Stiglitz; the Black Lives Matter Global Network; and the #MeToo Movement.
One of the most important discoveries in chemistry was made by Sidney Altman and Thomas R. Cech in 1989, when they discovered that RNA has an enzymatic function. This discovery was revolutionary for chemistry and opened up new areas of research and biotechnology. Until this discovery, it was believed that molecules could only carry information, like RNA, or catalyze chemical reactions, like proteins, but not both.
By demonstrating that ribonuclease-P, a protein that is involved in the breaking of DNA, can be broken down by RNA, Altman and Cech revealed a previously unknown link between the two. By using artificial RNA to replace the naturally occurring ribonuclease-P, they were able to demonstrate that it did not need an associated protein to catalyze its functions.
For his groundbreaking work, Altman shared the 1989 Nobel Prize in chemistry with Cech. This discovery changed the way we think about biology and helped to pave the way for the development of new drugs.
In addition to his research, Altman was also a prominent public speaker and a passionate advocate for science in the general public. He was the president of the American Society for Molecular Biology and an honorary fellow of St John’s College at Yale.
Among his many awards, Altman was a recipient of the American Chemical Society Medal of Merit and an honorary member of the British Royal Society of Chemistry. He also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Institutes of Health’s Gold Medal for Scientific Achievement.
He was a Sterling Professor in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale University. During his career, he published hundreds of scientific papers and authored five books. He died on April 5, at age 82.