Nobel Prize in Medicine awarded to three doctors: All you need to know

The 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded jointly on Monday to James E Rothman, Randy W Schekman and Thomas C. Suedhof 'for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells'. Here's all you need to know about the winners, as well as the past winners of the prize

FP Staff October 07, 2013 16:25:56 IST
Nobel Prize in Medicine awarded to three doctors: All you need to know

The 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded jointly on Monday to James E Rothman, Randy W Schekman and Thomas C Suedhof "for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells".

Nobel Prize in Medicine awarded to three doctors All you need to know

Images of James Rothman, Randy Schekman and Thomas Suedhof projected on a screen, in Stockholm, Sweden. AP image

The 2013 Nobel Prize honours three scientists who have solved the mystery of how cells organise their transport system. For example, how insulin is manufactured and released in the blood, how chemical signals are sent through nerve cells, the  transportation of molecules in small packages called vesicles. The three Nobel Laureates have discovered the molecular principles that govern how this cargo is delivered to the right place at the right time in the cell.

Randy Schekman discovered a set of genes that were required for vesicle traffic. James Rothman unravelled protein machinery that allows vesicles to fuse with their targets to permit transfer of cargo. Thomas Südhof revealed how signals instruct vesicles to release their cargo with precision. 

Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine have been awarded 103 times between 1901 and 2012. In all but 38 cases they were given to more than one recipient. Of the 201 individuals awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine up to 2012, only ten are women. Of these Barbara McClintock is the only one who has received an unshared Nobel Prize.

To date, the youngest Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine is Frederick G. Banting, who was 32 years old when he was awarded the Medicine Prize in 1923.Famous winners include Robert Koch, the German physician and bacteriologist, who won in 1905 for his work on tuberculosis. Frederick Banting, the Canadian physiologist who with his assistant Charles Best discovered insulin, the principal remedy for diabetes, won the prize in 1923.

One winner was forced to decline the prize. German dictator Adolf Hitler had forbidden three German laureates from accepting their prizes, including Gerhard Domagk, who was awarded the 1939 Nobel Medicine prize. He could later receive the Diploma and Medal, but not the prize amount.

Below is a video of James E Rothman explaining his work, or to be exact, explaining the "molecular mechanism of synchronous neurotransmitter release at synapses."

With inputs from Reuters

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