Crown Princess Victoria handed out the 2017 Crafoord Prize in Polyarthritis to Shimon Sakaguchi, Osaka University, Japan, Fred Ramsdell, Parks Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, United States, and Alexander Rudensky, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, USA on May 18, 2017.
[T]hose researchers at high levels to whom prizes like the Crafoord Prize are given, have already attained such a level of eminence in society, that they have more than they need of material benefits and prestige among their colleagues, as well as the authority and perks that accompany these things. Is it not obvious, however, that these excessive rewards to the few must come at the expense of the many?
Those labors which now earn me the approbation of the Royal Academy were carried out 25 years ago, at a time when I was still integrated into the scientific milieu and shared both its worldview and its values. But I departed from this milieu in 1970. Since then, while not in the least renouncing my passion for scientific research, I have continued to put some distance between myself and scientific circles.
In the two decades that have intervened the ethical standards of the sciences ( certainly in mathematics) have been degraded to such an extent that the most bare-faced plagiarism between colleagues ( often at the expense of those who can’t defend themselves), seems to have become the norm. At least it is generally tolerated, even in exceptionally flagrant instances.
Given this situation, were I to agree to enter into the game of prizes and rewards, it would be equivalent to my giving stamp of approval to a state of affairs in today’s sciences that I see as being profoundly unhealthy. Their spiritual state, even their intellectual and material states, are nothing less than suicidal, hence they are destined to vanish in the near future.
Alexandre Grothendieck, rejecting the Crafoord prize