Some of the world's greatest minds are gathering this week in Sweden to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Prize.

Amongst the participants will be many of the Cambridge academics whose achievements have been recognised by the Nobel Foundation in the course of the last century.

The University of Cambridge holds the distinction of being the UK institution with the greatest number of Nobel prize winners. Cambridge's first Nobel came in 1904 when the Prize for Physics was won by Lord Rayleigh, Professor of Experimental Physics and a Fellow of Trinity College.

Since then Lord Rayleigh has been joined by another 69 men and women in a distinguished list which includes Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins winner of the Medicine prize in 1929 for the discovery of vitamins; Crick and Watson, joint-winners of the Physiology prize in 1962 for their discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA; and Frederick Sanger who won the Chemistry prize twice, once in 1958 for the first analysis of a protein molecule and again as a joint-winner in 1980 for the discovery of the complete base sequences in nucleic acids.

Cambridge has a strong track record in number of areas including chemistry and physics. Since 1983 the Economics prize has been won four times, most recently by Professor Amartya Sen, Master of Trinity College for his contribution to welfare economics.

The Nobel Prize was the first international award and has been given yearly since 1901 for achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace. In 1968, the Sveriges Riksbank (Bank of Sweden) instituted a further Prize in Economic Sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel, founder of the Nobel Prize.

Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) was born in Stockholm, Sweden to a family of engineers. Nobel invented dynamite in 1866 and later built up companies and laboratories in more than 20 countries all over the world. A holder of more than 350 patents, he also wrote poetry and drama and even seriously considered becoming a writer.

Efforts to promote peace were close to his heart and he derived intellectual pleasure from literature, while science built the foundation for his own activities as a technological researcher and inventor.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence. If you use this content on your site please link back to this page.