By Nicole Garneau, PhD
It is 2011 Nobel Prize week. It's a reminder about how
incredible the human mind is, and how there is an entire world of
discoveries just waiting to be made. Here's a quick look at the
history of the prize and some of my favorites.
In 1895, a man named Alfred Nobel in Sweden penned his last will
and testament leaving the majority of his wealth to begin the Nobel
Prize. The first prize was awarded in 1901 and since has honored
men and women from all across the world for outstanding
achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and for
work in peace.
For me, the prizes awarded in physiology and medicine have truly
impacted not only all human lives, but my career as a scientist.
They answered questions about how we know a disease is casued by a
bacteria, the sturture of DNA, and just how viruses can actually
Here are some of my favorites:
1905: Robert Koch was awarded for his work on tuberculosis, tied
famously to the Koch postulates that establishes the relationship
between a disease and its microbial cause.
1962: Watson, Crick and Wilkins were awarded "for their
discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and
its significance for information transfer in living material".
1975: Truly near and dear to my past self as a graduate student
working on way cells can defend against viruses, was the prize
awarded to David Baltimore, Renato Dulbecco and Howard Martin
Temin. They were awarded for "for their discoveries concerning the
interaction between tumour viruses and the genetic material of the
There are so many more, and you can learn about all of them and
the Nobel lectures they gave here: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/
Cheers to this year's winners in Physiology or Medicine, Bruce
A. Beutler and Jules A. Hoffmann for their discoveries about the
intricacies of the human immune system and how it protects our
And cheers to scientists and budding scientists everywhere
working to understand the world and making strides towards the next
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