The 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

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The 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three scientists for their discovery of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability. Since the establishment of the Nobel Assembly in 1901 at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, 219 researchers have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their breakthrough discoveries. 

 

On 7 October, the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded jointly to William G. Kaelin, Jr., Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability. Kaelin and Semenza are from the US, while Ratcliffe is from the UK. Thanks to the groundbreaking work of these Nobel Laureates, we now know much more about how different oxygen levels regulate fundamental physiological processes. Oxygen sensing allows cells to adapt their metabolism to low oxygen levels. Oxygen sensing is central to a large number of diseases, and pharmaceutical companies are now focused on developing drugs that can interfere with different disease states by either activating or blocking the oxygen-sensing machinery. (Source: The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute)

 

The Nobel Assembly is a body at Karolinska Institute that awards the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and is located in the Nobel Forum on the grounds of the Karolinska Institute campus. Originally, the Nobel Assembly was a collective of all professors at the Institute; however, in 1977 the Nobel Assembly became a separate private organisation hosted by the Karolinska Institute. Since 1984 the membership is restricted to 50 Karolinska Institute professors.

 

The Karolinska Institute, founded in 1810, is recognised as the top university in Sweden’s as well as one of the most prestigious medical universities in the world. Ole Petter Ottersen, its current president, spoke about the institute’s research capabilities in an interview with PharmaBoardroom, “Our primary strength is our high-quality research and education which constitute the platform for all life science endeavours…[Karolinska] promotes innovation and entrepreneurship in life sciences through education, support to researchers and students, as well as support for startups.” 

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