Every year in early October the Nobel Prize winners are announced. For those of us in Canada, this coincides with our Canadian Thanksgiving, which is celebrated the second Monday in October every year.
Call me a NERD but to me this is an appropriate pairing: Thanksgiving — a time to reflect on what we have in our lives — and the Nobel Prize – a time to reflect on a person’s lifetime of achievement. Importantly, the contributions of the named Nobel Laureates have often have had an enormous impact on scientific methodology, scientific theory and/or the quality of health and life in general. For instance, this includes recognition for the discovery of HIV (2008), development of the gene silencing (2006), and discovery of protein ubiquitination (2004). And where would we be without PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction)? The Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to Kary Mullia and Michael Smith in 1993 for their discovery and work on PCR.
The achievements recognized in this year’s awards resonate through many aspects of our lives, from the optimism for the possibilities offered by therapeutic stem cells to the stabilization of the global economy. Hopefully the dividends from these discoveries will be evident in the years to come.
If you knew me during the first couple of years of my PhD, then you heard me talk endlessly about Robert Lefkowitz and the biology of the trimeric G-protein protein couple receptors (GPCR) chemokine receptors. I am sure all of Queen’s University heard my ramblings — I was GPCR OBSESSED. Without Dr. Lefkowitz’s work, I probably would not have a PhD today, and for his work on GPCRs I am grateful. Specifically Dr. Lefkowitz has made a significant impact on the field of drug development by elucidating the signalling, activation and desensitization of GPCRs which has been applied for the treatment of conditions such as ulcers and hypertension. Therefore, I was super pumped to hear of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry this year going to Dr. Lefkowitz and Brain K. Kobilka”for studies of G-protein-coupled receptors“.
The announcement for the Chemistry Nobel Prize on GPCRs got me thinking, “Who will win next year? What researcher, technology or development has impacted the other areas of my scientific career or science and society in general significantly enough to be deserving of the NEXT Nobel Prize?”
I believe a new tone has been set for global science and health care. Specifically, the work by Grand Challenges Canada is leading the way for global scientific development. Their platform encompasses the utilization of scientific innovation to improve health care and build scientific discovery in low-income countries. Grand Challenges Canada has received global attention by Scientific and Global Health Organizations including the prestigious scientific publication Nature, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and USAID. Grand Challenges Canada has implemented programs for solving health-care challenges through the following in initiatives: Stars in Global Health, Saving Lives at Birth, Saving Brains, and Global Mental Health. Importantly, the Stars in Global Health programme supports collaborations between Canada and lower income countries for the development of scientific innovations for resolving global health challenges. Essentially, its aim is to utilize scientific discovery to directly improve the health problems in lower income countries. I believe that the work being conducted requires both scientific and health-care novelty and knowledge and will have a significant global impact. To me, I can’t think of anything more fabulous than using science, scientific initiatives and global collaborations to directly solve world issues and I feel these efforts should be recognized.
Now I ask YOU. What researcher or what technology do you see as deserving of a Nobel Prize? Or what innovation do you see as having a significant impact on science or society in the next 10 years? What Scientific Discovery are you personally thankful for? I would love to know your thoughts…
This year the awards were as follows:
- Physics awards were given to Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland “for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems“.
- Physiology or Medicine was awarded to John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka “for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent“.
- The Literature prize was awarded to Mo Yan “who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary”.
- The Nobel Peace Prize went to the European Union (EU) “for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe”.
- The 2012 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel was awarded to Alvin E. Roth and Lloyd S. Shapley “for the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design”.
- AND The 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded jointly to Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brain K. Kobilka”for studies of G-protein-coupled receptors“.