Two Americans, an Australian and an Italian have won the four Balzan prizes for 2008, it was announced in Milan on Monday.
The prizes of SFr1 million francs ($886,800) each, are named after Italian journalist Eugenio Balzan, who spent many years in Switzerland during the fascist Mussolini regime in his home country.
The fund is administered from Zurich, while the prize foundation is based in Milan.
Thomas Nagel of the United States has been awarded the prize for moral philosophy, for his work on contemporary ethical theory, while his compatriot Wallace Broecker has been honoured for his contribution to the science of climate change.
The prize for preventative medicine has gone to Australian Ian Frazer for his work on a vaccination against cervical cancer.
Maurizio Calvesi of Italy has been given the prize for the figurative arts since 1700 in recognition of his research in the area of the history of art.
The Balzan prizes are regarded as among the most prestigious in the world. Under the terms of the award, half of the prize money has to be spent in financing research projects, "preferably" by young scholars. They are awarded in each area at intervals of not less than three years.
The aim is to promote culture and the sciences and to reward initiatives in the area of promoting peace and brotherhood.
The prizes will be presented by the Italian president on November 21 in Rome.
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