Yesterday I mentioned that there had been a lot of cancer stories in the news this week as there had been a large cancer conference in Birmingham. You may have noticed a lot of science stories too, this is because the winners of the 2009 Nobel Prizes were also announced this week.
Two of this years Nobel Prizes are very “biological”. There isn’t actually a Nobel Prize for Biology, but there is one for Physiology and Medicine and one for Chemistry. The Nobel Prize for physiology and Medicine was awarded to three researchers who studied telomerase. We all have telomerase inside us, it protects the ends of our chromosomes from being damaged.
The Nobel Prize for Chemistry went two three researchers who worked out the shape of the ribosome. Everyone has ribosomes inside them, they are responsible for making all the 30,000+ proteins that make you, you.
Why three researchers? The Nobel Prize rules state that only 3 people can win each prize, in reality these sort of experiments are done by teams of people and usually involve decades of work. I found it interesting that 1/6 people currently works in the UK and that 3/6 winners are women. Although, apparently this is the first year in the 100 year history of the science prizes that more than one woman has been in receipt of the award.
There is a lot more detail on the Nobel Prize Website, including lectures and interviews. If you want a quick summary of the research have a read of Derek Lowes Blog “In the Pipeline” on Telomerase and Ribosomes.
What is your opinion on this years awards? Please leave a comment below.