Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded yearly by the Nobel Assembly at (the) Karolinska Institutet for outstanding discoveries in physiology or medicine. The Nobel Prize is not a single prize, but five separate prizes that, according to Alfred Nobel's 1895 will, are awarded "to those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind”. Nobel Prizes are awarded in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace.

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
(Swedish: Nobelpriset i fysiologi eller medicin)
Awarded forDiscoveries in physiology or medicine that led to benefit for humankind
LocationStockholm, Sweden
Presented byNobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet
Reward(s)9 million SEK (2017)[1]
First awarded1901
Currently held byHarvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton, Charles M. Rice (2020)

The Nobel Prize is presented annually on the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death, 10 December. As of 2020, 111 Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine have been awarded to 222 laureates, 210 men and 12 women. The first one was awarded in 1901 to the German physiologist Emil von Behring, for his work on serum therapy and the development of a vaccine against diphtheria. The first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, Gerty Cori, received it in 1947 for her role in elucidating the metabolism of glucose, important in many aspects of medicine, including treatment of diabetes. The most recent Nobel prize was announced by Karolinska Institute on 5 October 2020, and has been awarded to Americans Harvey J. Alter and Charles M. Rice, and Briton Michael Houghton, for the discovery of the Hepatitis C virus.[2]

The prize consists of a medal along with a diploma and a certificate for the monetary award. The front side of the medal displays the same profile of Alfred Nobel depicted on the medals for Physics, Chemistry, and Literature; the reverse side is unique to this medal.

Some awards have been controversial. This includes one to António Egas Moniz in 1949 for the prefrontal lobotomy, bestowed despite protests from the medical establishment. Other controversies resulted from disagreements over who was included in the award. The 1952 prize to Selman Waksman was litigated in court, and half the patent rights awarded to his co-discoverer Albert Schatz who was not recognized by the prize. Nobel prizes cannot be awarded posthumously. Also, no more than three recipients can receive a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, a limitation that is sometimes discussed as an increasing trend is for larger teams to conduct important scientific projects.