The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to David Julius and Ardem Pataputyan.

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to David Julius and Ardem Pataputyan for discovering the mechanisms of temperature and touch transmission by the nervous system.

Their “groundbreaking discoveries” “led to an understanding of how heat, cold and mechanical force can initiate neural impulses that allow us to perceive and adapt to the world,” praised the Nobel jury in Stockholm.

Their work is being used in research on many treatments, including chronic pain.

David Julius, 65, a professor at the University of California, used capsaicin, the hot active ingredient in chili peppers that causes a burning sensation, to identify a sensor in the nerve endings of the skin that responds to heat.

Ardem Pataputian, a 12-year-old Beirut native and professor at the Scripps Research Institute, also in California, has used pressure-sensitive cells to discover a new class of sensors that respond to mechanical stimuli in the skin and internal organs.

Winners

“They are both incredible researchers who opened the door to sensory experience in a very unique way,” said Thomas Perlmann, head of the Nobel Committee for Medicine.

“These breakthrough discoveries marked the beginning of an intense research activity that has led to a rapid expansion of our understanding of how the nervous system perceives heat, cold and mechanical stimuli,” the Nobel jury said in a statement. in a statement.

“The Laureates have identified critical missing links in our understanding of the complex interplay between our senses and our environment,” he added.

The couple also shared the prestigious Kavli Prize in neuroscience last year.

Including this 112th Nobel Prize in Medicine since its inception, there are 224 Physiology or Medicine laureates, including only 12 women.

Start of awards week

Last year, the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to three scientists who discovered the liver-destroying hepatitis C virus. This breakthrough led to the development of a cure for the deadly disease and tests to prevent the spread of this scourge through blood banks.

The prestigious award includes a gold medal and 10 million SEK (about 1 million euros). The prize money comes from a will left by the creator of the prize, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, who died in 1895.

The award is presented for the first time this year. Other prizes will be awarded during the week: outstanding work in physics will be celebrated on Tuesday, chemistry on Wednesday, before the long-awaited literary prize on Thursday and the peace prize on Friday, the only prize awarded in Oslo.

The Economics Prize will close the awards season next Monday.

COVID stop ceremonies

While the 2021 Nobel Prizes are being announced as planned this week, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the cancellation of the laureates’ arrival for the December 10 awards ceremony in Stockholm for the second year in a row. happened in peacetime since 1924.

As with last year’s awards, the prizes will be awarded in the countries where the winners live, although there is some hope that the Peace Prize will still be awarded in Oslo.

For the latter, freedom of the press (Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and so on), the Belarusian opposition and its leader Svyatlana Tikhanovskaya, and 18-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and her Fridays for Future movement. considered as candidates for a place in the World Food Programme.