Nobel Notables: The Oscars of DC

Nobel Notables: The Oscars of DC

Our nation’s capital had the honor of fȇting the Nobel Laureates, in a preview of the December 10th festivities in Stockholm, at what is widely considered D.C.’s glitziest night of the year — D.C.’s Oscars!

This year there were six American recipients of the Prize in a wide variety of disciplines, four of whom attended the celebration at the House of Sweden on November 13th: Paul Romer (Economics), George P. Smith (Chemistry), Frances Arnold (Chemistry), and James Allison (Physiology or Medicine). Ambassador of Sweden, Karin Olofsdotter, was the ever gracious host.

Mrs. Simonyi, Ambassador Andras Simonyi, Laureate Dr. George P. Smith , Marjorie Sable, Padmanee Sharma, Laureate Dr. James P. Allison,Coach Kathy Kemper, George Zaidan (Photo by Tomas Enqvist/Embassy of Sweden)

Here’s some of what the laureates had to say:

“Evolution teaches you that if you’re not diverse you go extinct.” — Frances Arnold

“When you realize that value comes discovering ways to take the stuff we have and turn it into something we value much more, and then you start to think about analogies like protein sequences or chemical formulas, you realize that there is this just incomprehensibly large set of things yet to be discovered. Now all of a sudden, it’s good to be part of a billion people instead of a million, it’s good to be a part of a world with 10 billion instead of a billion because there are more people who will eventually go out and discover those things. And once somebody finds it anywhere, we can all benefit from it.” — Paul Romer

“I think that’s universal amongst all scientists. You make a hypothesis that can explain something and if you’re right every time, it means you’re not asking the right questions. It’s when you’re wrong that you know you’re making progress.” — James Allison

“I have enjoyed, for the last thirty years, recombining DNA, mutating DNA in the test tube, breeding molecules like you breed cats and dogs. We can create the catalysts that biology didn’t care about but that humans might be able to use to move into a much more sustainable future. So that’s what I do. I push Nature.” — Frances Arnold

“I’ve always been at risk of being drummed out of the economics profession because I’m so optimistic. But I just can’t help it! It’s just what the facts tell me.” — Paul Romer

Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter (Photo by Tomas Enqvist/Embassy of Sweden)

“What it’s going to take to really do this efficiently is for the people who are used to chemotherapy or radiation therapy — who think they’ve got to kill every last damn tumor cell, you know they’ve just got to bomb it and bomb it and bomb it — to realize you don’t have to do that with immunotherapy. You just have to kill them enough to alert the immune system and back off. And we’re going to decrease side effects while improving response rates and durability.” — James Allison

My favorite question was to Dr. Frances H. Arnold, the first female Nobel Laureate I have met in the past 10 years: “Dr. Arnold, who are you wearing? She replied with a sparkling giggle: “Alexander McQueen!”

Dr. Frances Arnold, Nobel Prize Laureate in Chemistry and Coach Kathy Kemper

The elegant black tie evening continued with much toasting of “skål” accompanied by sunchoke soup, mushroom tart, seared salmon and a delicious dessert display by Swedish Ambassador’s Executive Chef, Frida Johansson.

Michael Kratsios, Dep. USCTO, Coach Kathy Kemper, Ambassador David O’Sullivan, EU (Photo by Tomas Enqvist/Embassy of Sweden)

Spotted: Ambassador of Sweden, Karin Olofsdotter, USTR, Robert Leithauser, Senators Tom Udall and Jill Udall, Senator Chris Coons, Coach Kathy Kemper, Congressman Rick Larsen, Dep.USCTO Michael Kratsios, George Zaidan, ballerina Julie Kent, EU Ambassador David O’Sullivan, Ambassador Stuart Holliday and Gwen Holliday, Raluca Barbulescu, Doug Tusing.

Please click here to access the link below for the video of the Nobel Symposium hosted by the Embassy of Sweden in the United States.

About the author

Coach Kathy Kemper, known as “Coach” to many, is Founder and CEO of the Institute for Education, a non-profit foundation that recognizes and promotes leadership, civility, and finding common ground, locally, nationally, and in the world community.

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