Edmond H. Fischer

Banquet speech

Edmond H. Fischer’s speech at the Nobel Banquet, December 10, 1992

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of my colleague and closest friend of forty years, Edwin Krebs and myself, I would like to express our gratitude for the immense honor bestowed upon us today.

I thought I would reflect here on a theme most scientists enjoy recalling: the part luck played in their accomplishments. That was easy because, without question or false modesty, no success has owed more to serendipity than ours. First, we happened to have chosen the right enzyme to study at precisely the right time, and discovered that it was regulated by the simplest of reactions. Second, this simplest of reactions, rather than being restricted to that one system only, turned out to be involved in just about every aspect of cell regulation, from hormone action to gene expression to cancer. Of course, hundreds of scientists participated in these developments and this award really celebrates their collective contributions. But then comes the inevitable question: why were we singled out among so many brilliant colleagues.

It dawned on me that the answer was obvious: NAME RECOGNITION! Indeed, among previous science Laureates there have been no less than 3 other Fischers (all spelling their name correctly – with a “c”) and one other Krebs, the late Sir Hans, a good friend of ours. With the two of us today, that makes a total of 6 which beats all other contenders by a mile. So, name recognition must have been very important. But just as important was the fact that, over the years, we have been blessed with the most superb group of collaborators.

It is commonly said that a teacher fails if he has not been surpassed by his students. There has been no failure on our part in this regard considering how far they have gone. We owe our success to them, and also to the fact that, as the saying goes, two “Eds” are better than one.

From Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 1992, Editor Tore Frängsmyr, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1993

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1992


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