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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

2 Americans and 1 German jointly win Nobel Prize in Physiology 2013.

Rightfully, this award would capture headlines Internationally and something from me too…………. It is the Nobel Prize ~ a set of annual international awards bestowed in a number of categories by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and/or scientific advances. The will of the Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes in 1895. The prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace were first awarded in 1901. The related Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences was created in 1968. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, Norway, while the other prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden. The Nobel Prize is widely regarded as the most prestigious award available in the fields of literature, medicine, physics, chemistry, peace, and economics.

Incidentally, do you know the famous winner of 1945 in the field of Physiology ?  This year the winners have bagged the prize for their research on ‘cargo transportation’………… nothing to do with logistics, carriage of goods or Marine insurance though !!!!

In a large and busy port, systems are required to ensure that the correct cargo is shipped to the correct destination at the right time. The cell, with its different compartments called organelles, faces a similar problem: cells produce molecules such as hormones, neurotransmitters, cytokines and enzymes that have to be delivered to other places inside the cell, or exported out of the cell, at exactly the right moment. Timing and location are everything. Miniature bubble-like vesicles, surrounded by membranes, shuttle the cargo between organelles or fuse with the outer membrane of the cell and release their cargo to the outside. This is of major importance, as it triggers nerve activation in the case of transmitter substances, or controls metabolism in the case of hormones. How do these vesicles know where and when to deliver their cargo?
On 27 November 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, giving the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes, the Nobel Prizes. As described in Nobel's will, one part was dedicated to “the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine”.   The decision on the selection is made by the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet, which consists of 50 professors working at the Institute.

So far, 204 persons have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine between 1901 and 2012. ~ of which there have been only 10 women.  Frederick G. Banting, who was awarded the 1923 Medicine Prize for the discovery of insulin, was the youngest of them all at 32. This would be better understood when you know that 57 is the average age of Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine.  

Two Americans, James Rothman and Randy Schekman, and Germany's Thomas Sudhof have won the 2013 Nobel prize for medicine or physiology for research into how the cell organises its transport system, the award-giving body said on Monday. James E. Rothman was born 1950 in Haverhill, Massachusetts; he is currently Professor and Chairman in the Department of Cell Biology. Randy W. Schekman was born 1948 in St Paul, Minnesota, USA; he is currently Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell biology. Schekman is also an investigator of Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Thomas C. Südhof was born in 1955 in Göttingen, Germany; he is Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University in 2008.

The 2013 prize honours three scientists who have solved the mystery of how the cell organizes its transport system. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1945 was awarded jointly to Sir Alexander Fleming, Ernst Boris Chain and Sir Howard Walter Florey "for the discovery of penicillin and its curative effect in various infectious diseases". 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
8th Oct 2013.


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