Yo Pearl Salutes the 2011 Nobel Prize Week

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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. http://www.nobelprize.org/alfred_nobel/biographical/

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 cause cancer.

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 cell".


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 bodies.

And cheers to scientists and budding scientists everywhere working to understand the world and making strides towards the next incredible discovery.

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