Nobel prize season began on Monday with the announcement of the 102nd Nobel prize for physiology or medicine, to be split between University College London’s John O’Keefe, and the Norwegian husband-and-wife team of Edvard and May-Britt Moser.
The prize is awarded not for a lifetime’s body of work by a doctor or scientist, but for “the most important discovery”. O’Keefe and the Mosers were honoured this year “for their discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain”.
May-Britt Moser becomes only the 11th ever female Nobel laureate in physiology or medicine. Only one woman – Barbara McClintock, in 1983 – has ever won an unshared Nobel in the field.
Winners must be alive, but they are not contacted until very shortly before the official announcement. This proved a problem for the Nobel committee in 2011, when it emerged that one of the recipients of that year’s medicine prize, Canadian-born Ralph Steinman, had died of pancreatic cancer four days previously.
As ever, much of the Nobel-related media attention is likely to be on the winner of this year’s Peace Prize, to be announced on Friday. Among the contenders are whistleblower Edward Snowden, who in September was awarded Sweden’s Right Livelihood Honorary Award, considered the “alternative Nobel”.
Pope Francis is also among the record 278 nominees for the 2014 peace prize, as is 17 year-old Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai.
Source: UK Guardian