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Immigrants Have Won 40% of Nobel Prizes Awarded to Americans Since 2000

Oct 5, 2023

US immigrant Katalin Kariko awarded the Nobel Prize 2023
U.S. immigrant Katalin Karikó won the Nobel Prize in 2023 Credit: Penn Medicine

Immigrants have won 40%, or 45 of 112, of the Nobel Prizes awarded to Americans since 2000, according to a new analysis from nonprofit the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP). 

That percentage has remained relatively unchanged since the Nobel Prize was established. “Between 1901 and 2023, immigrants have been awarded 36%, or 115 of 319, of the Nobel Prizes won by Americans in chemistry, medicine and physics.”

In 2023, four out of the six U.S. winners of Nobel Prizes in medicine, chemistry, and physics were immigrants. 

The study found that immigration laws matter, and two in particular have helped bring future Nobel Prize recipients to the United States. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 marked a pivotal moment by removing discriminatory national origin quotas and paving the way for Asian immigrants. Additionally, the Immigration Act of 1990 increased the number of available employment-based green cards. These laws have played a crucial role in attracting international students to the United States and strengthening the nation’s capacity to integrate talented individuals into our society and economy.

The report highlighted a number of U.S. immigrants who were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2023, including Hungarian-born Katalin Karikó, who shared the Nobel Prize with American physician-scientist Drew Weissman in physiology or medicine “for their discoveries concerning nucleoside base modifications that enabled the development of effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19.”

“The achievements of immigrants in the form of Nobel Prizes, thriving businesses and contributions in other fields are a testament to the American Dream,” wrote the report’s authors. “Being open to immigration allows America to reap the benefits of scientific and technological innovation.”

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