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Cell. 2016 Sep 22;167(1):5-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.08.040. Epub 2016 Sep 13.

The Rule of Three for Prizes in Science and the Bold Triptychs of Francis Bacon.

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Chair, Lasker Awards Jury; Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX 75235, USA. Electronic address:


For many scientific awards, such as Nobels and Laskers, the maximum number of recipients is three. This Rule of Three forces selection committees to make difficult decisions that increase the likelihood of singling out those individuals who open a new field and continue to lead it. The Rule of Three is reminiscent of art's three-panel triptych, a form that the modern master Francis Bacon used to distill complex stories in a bold way.

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