The Mahathir Science Award (MSA) is positioned as the world’s most prestigious science award for tropical sciences, and bestowed on any scientists, institution or organization worldwide in recognition of contributions and innovations towards solving problems in the tropics through science and technology. The categories for the award are Tropical Agriculture, Tropical Architecture and Engineering, Tropical Medicine, and Tropical Natural Resources. It is awarded to the most deserving based on merit. As such, this extends beyond the boundaries of Malaysia in order to encourage excellence in tropical science that will accord direct benefits to countries in the tropics and indirectly to the global community.
One award is given out each year in one of the four categories. Award recipients receive USD100,000, a gold medal and a certificate, as well as the opportunity to work with the Mahathir Science Award Foundation to promote tropical sciences. The award is presented by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) or Prime Minister of Malaysia during an official ceremony in Kuala Lumpur with eminent leaders from the scientific community, ministries and science agencies, industry leaders. members of media and partners of the Foundation in attendance.
In 2005, the ''ASM Award for Scientific Excellence in Honour of Tun Dr Mahathir'' was renamed as the Mahathir Science Award. In 2010, the Mahathir Science Award Foundation was set up to manage and oversee this prestigious award, maintaining its relationship with the Academy of Sciences, Malaysia (ASM). It is hoped that through this award, a new benchmark will be set for tropical sciences, and the profile of science in Malaysia and the tropics will rise to greater heights.