It’s Nobel Prize Week! Physiology/Medicine Prize awarded to pair for work on bodily temperature and touch sensors. Plus, our annual Guess-the-Laureate Contest.

October 4, 2021 • 8:45 am

Starting today and extending for a week, we’ll have a Nobel Prize awarded every weekday. The Physiology or Medicine Prize was announced this morning in Stockholm, and so two investigators will have been woken up early but will be very happy. Here they are with some info from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (I’ve added links):

David Julius [left below], a professor at the University of California, San Francisco and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Trustee, and Ardem Patapoutian [right], an HHMI Investigator at Scripps Research have received the award for their work identifying receptors on sensory neurons that give us the ability to monitor temperature, pain, touch, and movement of our body.

The prize was announced here and the explanation of what Julius and Patapoutian found is here or at the HHMI site.  Trigger warning: Hot peppers are involved! Here’s the official announcement (32 minutes), which gives the names and explains the discoveries as well with the explanation beginning at 2:23.

A tweet sent mr by Matthew:

Because the biology prize was announced already, it can’t be part of our annual contest to “Guess the Laureates”. Since nobody ever wins that one, I’m making it easier this year.

Look at the announcements below, and then guess the names of ONLY THREE LAUREATES, one from each of three of the five categories of your choice: physics, chemistry, literature, peace, or the economics prize. If there you have multiple guesses in a category, you can guess only one recipient. 

Remember: just give me three names and the area in which each is supposed to win. 

If you guess a name after the prize is awarded, your entry doesn’t count. So if you’re guessing in physics, your deadline is this evening, and so on.

If there is more than one winning entry (all three guesses correct), we will have a raffle for the winner. The Coyne Prize is, also as usual, an autographed copy of one of my two trade books (WEIT or Faith Versus Fact), with a picture drawn in (by me) of an animal of your choice.  I suggest that you enter (in the comments below) by the end of today.

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Here’s the schedule of announcements from the organization itself:

AWARDED: PHYSIOLOGY OR MEDICINE – Monday 4 October, 11:30 CEST at the earliest
The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet, Wallenbergsalen, Nobel Forum, Nobels väg 1, Solna
http://www.nobelprizemedicine.org
nobelforum@nobelprizemedicine.org

PHYSICS – Tuesday 5 October, 11:45 CEST at the earliest
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (Kungl. Vetenskapsakademien, KVA), Sessionssalen, Lilla Frescativägen 4A, Stockholm
www.kva.se/pressroom
eva.nevelius@kva.se

CHEMISTRY – Wednesday 6 October, 11:45 CEST at the earliest
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Sessionssalen, Lilla Frescativägen 4A, Stockholm
www.kva.se/pressroom
eva.nevelius@kva.se

LITERATURE – Thursday 7 October, 13:00 CEST at the earliest
The Swedish Academy (Svenska Akademien), Börssalen, Källargränd 4, Stockholm
http://www.svenskaakademien.se/en
louise.hedberg@svenskaakademien.se

PEACE – Friday 8 October, 11:00 CEST
The Norwegian Nobel Committee, The Norwegian Nobel Institute (Norska Nobelinstitutet), Store Sal, Henrik Ibsens gate 51, Oslo
https://www.nobelpeaceprize.org
postmaster@nobel.no

THE SVERIGES RIKSBANK PRIZE IN ECONOMIC SCIENCES IN MEMORY OF ALFRED NOBEL – Monday 11 October, 11:45 CEST at the earliest
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Sessionssalen, Lilla Frescativägen 4A, Stockholm
www.kva.se/pressroom
eva.nevelius@kva.se

10 thoughts on “It’s Nobel Prize Week! Physiology/Medicine Prize awarded to pair for work on bodily temperature and touch sensors. Plus, our annual Guess-the-Laureate Contest.

  1. Chemistry: Katalin Kariko ́ and Drew Weissman for appraisal (in 2005) of the significance of modified nucleosides, in particular pseudouracil, in the ability of mRNA to avoid detection by the immune system.

  2. And several things made me smile after watching the video:

    1) They used hot coffee as the example for temperature sensation. Without coffee, Sweden would grind to a halt.

    2) Capsaicin must have resonated with the committee. At least when I was in Sweden in the earlier ’80s, the average Swede was quite averse to hot peppers, so much so that one day on the evening news there was a warning that a shipment of bell peppers had arrived that looked ordinary enough but that had undergone a back mutation and were hot!

    3) The dogged persistence of Patapouchian testing to the very last of the 72 candidate genes. In one of the Martin Beck (Maj Sjöwall / Per Wahlöö) mysteries, a key was involved that would solve the case if only the lock that it fit could be identified. It was in a smallish Swedish town and all thru the plot one cop doggedly went around testing the key in every door in town. Of course, near the end, he found it! I think everyone appreciates success from dogged persistence, but perhaps Swedes more than others.

  3. I’ve no predictions. But it’s fascinating that the perception of heat from chillies and from thermally hot materials uses the same mechanism.

    1. You might be correct about Greta. I suspect the WHO is out of the frame after the UN’s World Food Programme won last year.

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