Werner Arber, born in 1929, studied Science at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich and was awarded his Doctorate, in 1958, at the University of Geneva. After taking on a postdoctoral research position at the University of South California in Los Angeles, USA, he was appointed Professor for Molecular Genetics at the University of Geneva in 1965. From 1971 to 1996, Arber was Professor ordinarius for Molecular Microbiology at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel, over which he presided as Rector from 1986-1988. In 1978, Werner Arber was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine together with two Americans, Daniel Nathans and Hamilton Smith, for the discovery of restriction enzymes and their application in molecular genetics.
The Pontifical Academy of Sciences was founded over 400 years ago by Pope Clemens VIII. The Institution unites 80 Academics, appointed by the Pope and chosen from amongst the most well-known scientists from around the world. Along with Professor Arber, there are over 20 Nobel Prize laureates who are members of the Academy. The selection of the scientists who work for the Academy is based on their outstanding contributions in their field of science and of their acknowledged ethical merit, irrespective of ethnic background and religious affiliation.