Four scientists who won the Nobel Prize twice

If a Nobel Prize is the highest recognition for a scientist, being awarded twice is an extraordinary event that only four scientists have witnessed in their lives. Here’s a list of the four finest representatives of humanity, the most influential laureates who won the prize twice: 

1. Marie Curie

Born: 7 Nov 1867, Warsaw, Russian Empire (now Poland)
Died: 4 July 1934, France
Affiliation at the time of the award: Sorbonne University, Paris, France

Prize motivation:

1903 Prize: Jointly to Pierre Curie and Marie Curie, née Sklodowska “in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel.”
1911 Prize: “[I]n recognition of her services to the advancement of chemistry by the discovery of the elements radium and polonium, by the isolation of radium and the study of the nature and compounds of this remarkable element.”


1. Polish scientist Marie Sklodowska Curie was the first person in history to accomplish the achievement of receiving the Nobel Prize twice.
2. She was first awarded the prize in Physics in 1903 along with her husband Pierre and Henri Becquerel for the discovery of radioactivity.
3. In 1911, the Curies were again nominated for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering the elements radium and polonium and investing their properties. However, after the death of Pierre in 1906, the award was solely given to Marie Curie, since the award is never presented posthumously.
4. The Curies’ daughter, Irene, was also jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry alongside her husband, Frederic Joliot.

2. Linus Carl Pauling

Born: 28 February 1901, Portland, OR, USA
Died: 19 August 1994, Big Sur, CA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Pasadena, CA, USA

Read More: NOBEL PRIZES 2016

Prize motivation:

1954 Prize: “For his research into the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of the structure of complex substances.”
1962 Prize: “For his militant pacifism during the Cold War, focused primarily on combating nuclear weapons.”


1. The only person to receive two Nobel Prizes without having to share it with anyone else was Linus Pauling.
2. His first award, in 1954, was the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
3. Eight years later, in 1962, his militant pacifism during the Cold War focused primarily on combating nuclear weapons, earned him the Nobel Peace Prize.
4. He gathered signatures from more than 8,000 foreign scientists from 49 different countries. Their campaign culminated with the signing of the first Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963.
5. Pauling was one of the founders of the fields of quantum chemistry and molecular biology.
6. Pauling’s 1951 publication with Robert B. Corey and H. R. Branson, “The Structure of Proteins: Two Hydrogen-Bonded Helical Configurations of the Polypeptide Chain,” was a key early finding in the then newly emerging field of molecular biology.

3. John Bardeen

Born: 23 May 1908, Madison, WI, USA
Died: 30 January 1991, Boston, MA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, USA

Prize motivation:

1956 Prize: (along with William Bradford Shockley and Walter Brattain) “[F]or their researches on semiconductors and their discovery of the transistor effect.”
1972 Prize: (along with Leon Neil Cooper and John Robert Schrieffer) “[F]or their jointly developed theory of superconductivity, usually called the BCS-theory.”


1. The fact that we have radio, television, mobile phones, computers or tablets, we owe to John Bardeen.
2. John Bardeen was an electrical engineer who later obtained his doctorate in Physics at Princeton University where he studied the atomic structure and properties of semiconductors. He has to his credit, the transistor, which would come to replace vacuum tubes in countless electronic devices, from headphones to television.
3. He won his first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1956 for this invention, along with William B. Shockley.
4. Bardeen made the leap from semiconductors to superconductors, which are materials that conduct current without resistance or energy loss.

4. Frederick Sanger

Born: 13 August 1918, Rendcombe, United Kingdom
Died: 19 November 2013, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Prize motivation:

1958 Prize: “[F]or his work on the structure of proteins, especially that of insulin.”
1980 Prize: (along with Walter Gilbert) “[F]or their contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids”


1. Frederick Sanger was a biochemistry enthusiast who succeeded in determining the amino acid sequence of a protein.
2. Sanger chose the key hormone in the regulation of glucose metabolism, insulin.
3. It was his detailed description of the links that form the chemical chain of insulin that made possible the first production of this synthetic protein in a laboratory in 1963. Diabetics will be eternally grateful for this production.
4. In 1980, Sanger won the award once again in the same category for developing a method to read DNA, therefore taking the first step in the study of human genome.

Other winners for more than one time

In addition to the four doubly awarded scientists, there are also two institutions that have received several awards from the Swedish Academy. The first is the Red Cross, an international humanitarian organization that has so far achieved three Nobel Peace Prize wins. UNHCR, the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Refugees, has received two awards.

And speaking about the Nobel Prize records, we should not forget that the Curies are not only famous for the double award of Marie. The first and second generations of this family accumulated no less than four Nobel science prizes (their first daughter Irène Joliot-Curie won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935 for the discovery of artificial radioactivity, also with her husband).

Top 10 Facts

1. The Nobel Prizes are awarded on December 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s actual death.
2. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo and presented by the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, while the other Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm and presented by the King of Sweden.
3. The Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences is not a Nobel Prize. It’s technically the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. Sweden’s central bank created the endowment in 1968.
4. Nobel Prize winners take home a diploma, a gold medal, and some cold, hard cash. Last year’s winners were awarded $1.1 million.
5. Organizations can win the Nobel Peace Prize, but only individuals can be nominated for the others.
6. Sometimes the prize is shared, but never by more than three people. If two people win, the money is equally split. If three people win, the awarding committee chooses how to divide the prize.
7. Nobel Prize nomination records are kept sealed for 50 years after the award is given. Winners don’t know they’re nominated until they win.
8. There are no posthumous nominations. However, if a person is awarded the Nobel Prize but dies before the December 10 ceremony, (s)he is still a winner.
9. Nobel originally intended to give awards for contributions made during the preceding year. But, now, most scientific discoveries and innovations are honoured after they’ve stood the test of time.
10. Nobel laureates are required to give a public lecture within six months of accepting their award.

A Brief Recap

On 27 November 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, giving the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Peace – the Nobel Prizes. In 1968, Sveriges Riksbank (Sweden’s central bank) established The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.

Between 1901 and 2017, the Nobel Prizes and the Prize in Economic Sciences were awarded 585 times.

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