Nobel Prize Day is observed on December 10 in honor of Alfred Nobel. Nobel was a successful inventor who held 355 patents (the most famous of which was dynamite). After his death, his will left instructions to carry out what we now know as the Nobel Prize. There are six categories that are typically awarded once per year: literature, physics, chemistry, peace, economics, and physiology and medicine.
Since its inception in 1901, the Nobel Prize in Medicine has been awarded 110 times to 219 individuals. Laureates, or prize winners, range in ages from 32 to 87 and are selected internationally.
The 2019 Winners in Medicine
The 2019 winners of the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine are:
- William G. Kaelin Jr., a professor at Harvard University and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
- Dr. Gregg L. Semenza, a Johns Hopkins Medicine Professor and Scientist
- Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe of the Francis Crick Institute and Oxford University.
These three men have collectively discovered how cells monitor and adapt to oxygen levels. They have identified the HIF gene, a critical gene for oxygen intake and regulation.
Beginning their research in 1990, the three laureates have paved the way for numerous medical advancements. Their findings provide a better understanding of the physical response of cells to low oxygen levels.
With this award, Kaelin, Semenza, and Ratcliffe have joined the ranks of notable laureates in the medical field. Past winners include Ivan Pavlov, Karl Landsteiner, James Watson, Francis Crick, and Elizabeth Blackburn.
So, What Does This Mean for the Medical Field?
This new information is already being put towards the development of new cancer treatments. The findings also show promise for future treatments for anemia, heart disease, stroke, and poor blood circulation.
Similarly, the winners of last year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine also made great strides in developing effective cancer treatments. Their breakthrough involved targeting the body’s own immune system towards cancer cells. Many new drugs have been developed as a result and have seen success in many patients not responding to standard treatments.
Kaelin, Semenza, and Ratcliffe’s discovery could improve treatments and outcomes for those suffering from anemia, cancer, and other chronic conditions.
As scientists continue to learn more about the human body, the significance of these findings will become more and more clear. As put by Semenza, their discovery may soon be considered a “textbook discovery” for the biological sciences.
In the field of medicine, Nobel Prize Day reminds us how much is out there to be discovered. Findings such as this one have already begun to change the way the industry moves forward with finding cures.
Read about some of the other winners of the 2019 Nobel Prizes here.