Nobel Prizes 2014 – Announcement Date Monday Oct 6

The Nobel Prizes: What you should know ahead of time

By: Ben P. Stein, Director, Inside Science

It’s actually quite remarkable how well the Nobel committees keep the prizes and recipients secret until the announcements. (Update: In the earlier version of this blog, I wrote we were unaware of any leaks of prize information prior to the official announcements. But I have now found that Time had reported one for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize shortly before it was announced. And bookmakers reported an abrupt increase in the odds for poet Tomas Tranströmer to win shortly before he was named the recipient of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature, according to Sweden’s The Local newspaper; Swedish authorities investigated the matter and eventually came to no conclusions, according to the Wall Street Journal. Nonetheless, the Nobel committees’ overall track record seems excellent for keeping the prize information under wraps.)

The Nobel committees contact the often bleary-eyed recipients in the very early morning before announcing the prizes. Last year’s physics announcement was delayed because of the committee’s difficulty in reaching recipient Peter Higgs. He was traveling and doesn’t own a cellphone. For the 2012 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, one of the recipients, Ralph Steinman, died the Friday before the prize was announced, unbeknownst to the Nobel committee. Nobel Prizes can only be given to living individuals, based on the conditions set forth by the Nobel Foundation. But in my opinion, the Nobel committee did the right thing in 2011 and kept Steinman as the recipient even though he was deceased.

Read more at the Inside Science blog.



Breakthrough Prize in Life Science Foundation Announces Six Recipients for 2014

The Breakthrough Prizes recognize pioneering work in physics and genetics, cosmology, and neurology and mathematics. Each prize carries an award of $3 million.   The six winners for 2014 announced today are:

•    James Allison, MD Anderson Cancer Center, for the discovery of T cell checkpoint blockade as effective cancer therapy.

•    Mahlon DeLong, Emory University, for defining the interlocking circuits in the brain that malfunction in Parkinson’s disease. This scientific foundation underlies the circuit-based treatment of Parkinson’s disease by deep brain stimulation.

•    Michael Hall, University of Basel, for the discovery of Target of Rapamycin (TOR) and its role in cell growth control.

•    Robert Langer, David H. Koch Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for discoveries leading to the development of controlled drug-release systems and new biomaterials.

•    Richard Lifton, Yale University; Howard Hughes Medical Institute, for the discovery of genes and biochemical mechanisms that cause hypertension.

•    Alexander Varshavsky, California Institute of Technology, for discovering critical molecular determinants and biological functions of intracellular protein degradation.

Prize recipients are invited to serve on the selection committee to select recipients of future prizes. Last year, HHMI investigators Cornelia I. Bargmann at the Rockefeller University, Charles L. Sawyers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Bert Vogelstein at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine were awarded the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.

Founded in 2013, the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to advancing breakthrough research, celebrating scientists and generating excitement about the pursuit of science as a career. The Foundation was founded by Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, Jack Ma and Cathy Zhang, and Yuri and Julia Milner, and is chaired by Arthur Levinson, who is also chairman of Genentech and Apple.


The Pearl Meister Greengard Prize: Praising Pioneers in Biomedical Research

Dr. Huda Zoghbi, 2013 PMG Prize Recipient (image courtesy of The Rockefeller University)
There is nothing particularly remarkable about a woman doing science. Any person — man or woman — who shows an intellectual curiosity combined with a strong work ethic, good decision making, and a little bit of luck can be successful in science. What is remarkable, however, is the severe underrepresentation of women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. And for the few women who pursue these career endeavors, their achievements, however great, often go unsung.

To help counteract the inequitable distribution of scientific recognition specifically in biomedical research, Dr. Paul Greengard used the entirety of his 2000 Nobel Prize winnings to establish the Pearl Meister Greengard (PMG) Prize, which spotlights the extraordinary achievements of women in science and hopefully inspires future generations of women scientists in their pursuit of scientific careers. Named after his mother, Pearl Meister, who died while giving birth to him, Dr. Greengard also uses this prize for a very personal reason: to help make the idea of his mother seem less abstract.

Now in its 10th iteration, the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize has been awarded to an outstanding array of pioneering scientists, honoring their contributions to the advancement of biomedical research.

Ceremony is this Thursday, Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. (Caspary Auditorium)


2011 Winners of National Medals of Science, Technology

NAS Members honored are:

National Medal of Science

     Jacqueline K. Barton (NAS),  California Institute of Technology

     Ralph L. Brinster (NAS, IOM),  University of Pennsylvania

     Shu Chien (NAS, NAE, IOM,  University of California, San Diego

     Rudolf Jaenisch (NAS, IOM), Whitehead Institute MIT

     Peter J. Stang (NAS),University of Utah

     Richard A. Tapia (NAE), Rice University

     Srinivasa S.R. Varadhan (NAS), New York University

National Medal of Technology and Innovation

     Rakesh Agrawal (NAE), Purdue University

     B. Jayant Baliga (NAE), North Carolina State University

     Yvonne C. Brill (NAE),  RCA Astro Electronics (retired)

 Other winners of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation are C. Donald Bateman of Honeywell and Michael F. Tompsett of TheraManager

Meet the 2011 MacArthur Fellows

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. There are three criteria for selection of Fellows: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.

The MacArthur Fellows Program is intended to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations. In keeping with this purpose, the Foundation awards fellowships directly to individuals rather than through institutions. Recipients may be writers, scientists, artists, social scientists, humanists, teachers, entrepreneurs, or those in other fields, with or without institutional affiliations. They may use their fellowship to advance their expertise, engage in bold new work, or, if they wish, to change fields or alter the direction of their careers. 

Meet this year’s awardees.

2011 Lasker Awards Announced

Nature Medicine: The 2011 Lasker Medical Research Awards
The Lasker Awards recognize science that profoundly transforms our thinking about key problems in biology and medicine. Every year, Nature Medicine has the privilege to publish commentaries written by the winners in celebration of the Award.    Read about the awards and the comments of the winners. 

Elaine Fuchs Shares 2011 Albany Medical Prize for Stem Cell Research

The annual Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research award has been given to three stem cell researchers for their work in human stem cells.

The winners are Elaine Fuchs of Rockefeller University in New York City, James A. Thomson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health and Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University in Japan.

The co-recipients of the prize were announced March 17, 2011 by James J. Barba, president and chief executive officer of Albany Medical Center and chairman of the National Selection Committee. The scientists will receive the prize on May 13 during a celebration in Albany, N.Y. The $500,000 Prize is the largest award in medicine and science in the United States.

Morris “Marty” Silverman first established the prize in 2000.   Rockefeller’s Ralph Steinman won the prize in 2009.