WASHINGTON — President Trump, breaking a tradition that stretches back nearly two decades, will not personally greet the eight American Nobel laureates this year before they travel to Sweden in December to receive their prizes.

Not all the honorees are disappointed.

Two American Nobel Prize winners, when contacted by STAT, indicated they would not have attended a White House event even if invited. Columbia biophysicist Joachim Frank, awarded a Nobel in chemistry for his work in microscopy, said in an email he was “very relieved” when he learned there was no chance of an encounter with the president.


“I will not put my foot into the White House as long as Trump, Pence, or Ryan (i.e., the possible succession of impeachments) will occupy it,” Frank said. “I cannot speak for the others; don’t know them personally yet, but I strongly believe that as thinking intelligent people they will have a similar attitude as I.”

Trump returns from a two-week trip to Hawaii and Asia on Tuesday. A White House spokesman cited the foreign travel when asked why the president would not greet the laureates in person.

The White House has hosted an event in the laureates’ honor nearly every year since 2001. Former President Barack Obama granted an audience to the American group each year of his presidency except for 2009, when he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

Former President George W. Bush attended each year except for 2006, when former Vice President Dick Cheney greeted the group instead. Former President Bill Clinton also held in-person greetings for Nobel winners on numerous occasions during his presidency.

The majority of this year’s U.S. laureates are expected to attend an event in their honor at the Swedish Embassy in Washington on Tuesday — an event that is typically scheduled with the American president’s availability in mind.

The White House spokesman said Michael Kratsios, Trump’s top political appointee in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, will attend the reception at the Swedish Embassy on the administration’s behalf. France Cordova, the director of the National Science Foundation and an annual presence at the embassy’s event, will attend as well.

An official from the Obama administration who worked to coordinate the annual Nobel events said that last year the embassy postponed the reception to December after Obama scheduled a pre-Thanksgiving trip to Europe and South America.

Laureates have in the past used their access to the president as a political platform. In 2001, a group of American scientists wrote to Bush in opposition to his administration’s policy banning research that used embryonic stem cells. Numerous past Nobel winners in physics wrote Bush in 2008 to oppose a cut to research funding enacted that year by Congress.

The break from tradition comes as Trump, nearly 10 months after his inauguration, has yet to appoint a top science adviser and OSTP director — the longest such vacancy since OSTP was established in 1973.

A White House spokesperson also indicated the administration will not follow through with its plans, at least this year, to continue the tradition of a White House Science Fair.

The Americans awarded Nobel Prizes in 2017 are: Frank; physicists Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish, and Kip Thorne; geneticists Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young; and economist Richard Thaler.

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  • Probably some “global warming looks” in the crowd. “We prefer to put our heads in the sand. Looky here. Woo, that sand is hotter than last year.”

  • Do you know if the Thanksgiving turkeys have turned down their ‘Pardoning Ceremony’ in protest of Trump’s fowl words and policies?

    • You suggest that like you think Trump might have any awareness of it.

      In Trump’s world, if it isn’t on Fox News and about him, it’s irrelevant.

  • Trump is not about to meet with a group of people and not have HIMSELF as the top dog.

    Trump has nothing to say to these people and frankly their intelligence and accomplishments will intimidate the hell out of him.

    He has nothing of value to say to them.

    And they likely won’t say anything to HIM, that he would even remotely comprehend.

  • Trump’s reasons for not meeting with the Nobel recipients:

    1. Smart people are intimidating to Trump. They speak in complete sentences without scripts and they don’t buy into his BS.

    2. Obama is one of them.

    3. Trump got wind that many of them wouldn’t show up.

    • Dear Ben,
      What do you complain about?
      Your president keep saying that Putin is a good guy and that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing (his tweets).
      So both Obama and Hillary were just doing God/Trump’s will. Amen

    • Actually Ben, you just embarrassed yourself by exposing your ignorance, but don’t feel too bad because most Republicans are just as ignorant when it comes to the uranium deal.

      NO uranium was sold to Russia. The uranium deal was to allow a Canadian Russian-owned company to extract up to 20% of US uranium reserves in the US, but NONE of it is permitted to be exported. It’s a mining contract, not a uranium sale.

      Oh, and yes, I think using drones to hunt terrorists is a far better solution than invading a country under false pretenses, leading to the deaths of 100,000 innocent people.

      Now, do you feel smart? You shouldn’t.

    • I think number 2 is the reason we can dismiss the Nobel Awards as compromised. Sure, Trump may not be likable or even right. To suggest intelligence is the dividing line is just salty. He doesn’t seem to have anything to gain from boasting Nobel’s view of peace.

  • The real truth is that the president is, self claimed, so smart that he would have embarrassed all these “geniuses”, with both his eloquence and his omniscience

  • A fact averse person would feel terribly uncomfortable around people who traverse in the world of facts. Coupled with this man child’s par-toddler tendencies for diplomacy, this is not entirely unpredictable.

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