Real laureates

This year's Nobel prizes are truly grounded in practicality

Published: Friday 15 November 2002

this year, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm that decides the winners of Nobel prize, showed an admirable grasp of reality. The Nobel prize for physiology or medicine went to Sydney Brenner from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, John Sulston from the Sanger Centre at Cambridge University and H Robert Horvitz from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Working with tiny worms, they identified genes that regulate organ development and programmed cell death. Information about the same would help scientists understand how some viruses and bacteria invade human cells. This could also shed new light on the development of many diseases, including aids and cancer and help develop new cures, especially for cancer, as many treatment strategies are aimed at stimulating cancerous cell deaths.

A trio of astrophysicists won the physics prize for discovering the secrets of the Sun's nuclear furnace and exposing the invisible x-ray energy that washes around the Universe. Raymond Davis from the University of Pennsylvania and Masatoshi Koshiba from the University of Tokyo shared half the prize, while Riccardo Giacconi from Washington dc-based Associated Universities got the other half. Davis and Koshiba were awarded for finding ways to detect and count neutrinos that offer a unique view of the Sun's inner working. Giacconi got the prize for his efforts that have led to the discovery of cosmic x-ray sources.

The chemistry prize went to researchers whose work with proteins revolutionised the development of new medicines. John B Fenn of the Virginia Commonwealth University and Koichi Tanaka of Japan's Shimadzu Corporation got half the prize, while the rest was given to Kurt Wuethrich of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. The researchers were cited for the development of methods for identification and structure analyses of biological macromolecules, including proteins. With the help of their research, new drugs for cancer and malaria were developed.

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