Print Friendly, PDF & Email

All you wanted to know about Nobel Prizes

Topics Covered:

Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


All you wanted to know about Nobel Prizes


Context: The 2019 Nobel Prize in Medicine has been awarded jointly to William G. Kaelin Jr, Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza “for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability.”


Why does this matter?

  • The oxygen-sensing ability of the body has a role in the immune system and the earliest stages of development inside the womb. 
  • If oxygen levels are low, it can trigger the production of red blood cells or the construction of blood vessels to remedy this. 
  • More red blood cells mean the body is able to carry more oxygen and is why athletes train at altitude.
  • So, drugs that mimic it may be an effective treatment for anaemia.
  • Tumours, meanwhile, can hijack this process to selfishly create new blood vessels and grow.
  • So, drugs that reverse it may help halt cancer. 


Nobel Prize- overview:

Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist, engineer, industrialist, and the inventor of dynamite, in his last will and testament in 1895, gave the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology/Medicine, Literature, and Peace, to be called the “Nobel Prizes”.

In 1968, the sixth award, the Prize in Economic Sciences was started.

The Nobel Prize consists of a Nobel Medal and Diploma, and a document confirming the prize amount.

Between 1901 and 2018, the Prizes have been awarded 590 times, the recipients during this period being 908 Laureates and 27 organisations.


How candidates are nominated?

  1. The Nobel Committees of four prize-awarding institutions every year invite thousands of members of academies, university professors, scientists, previous Nobel Laureates, and members of parliamentary assemblies among others to submit candidates for the Nobel Prizes for the coming year.
  2. The nominators are selected in such a way that as many countries and universities as possible are represented over time.
  3. One cannot nominate himself/herself for a Nobel Prize.


The institutions that choose winners:

The Nobel Committees of the prize-awarding institutions are responsible for the selection of the candidates, the institutions being:

  1. Nobel Prize in Physics, Nobel Prize in Chemistry: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
  2. Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine: The Karolinska Institutet
  3. Nobel Prize in Literature: The Swedish Academy
  4. Nobel Peace Prize: A five-member Committee elected by the Norwegian Parliament (Storting)
  5. Prize in Economic Sciences: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences


The following Indians (or individuals of Indian origin) have been honoured with the Nobel: Rabindranath Tagore (Literature, 1913), C V Raman (Physics, 1930), Hargobind Khorana (Medicine, 1968), Mother Teresa (Peace, 1979), Subramanian Chandrashekhar (Physics, 1983), the Dalai Lama (Peace, 1989), Amartya Sen (Economics, 1998), Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (2009), and Kailash Satyarthi (Peace, 2014).


Sources: Indian Express.