Prize Watch

Don’t forget to be looking out for the other Nobel Prizes announced this week. Monday saw the Physiology or Medicine Prize go to Harald zur Hausen for work on the human papilloma viruses (which cause cervical cancer), and to Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier for work on the human immunodeficiency virus. Announcement and more details here. Meanwhile, today’s Chemistry Prize was to Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie, and Roger Y. Tsien for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP. Details here.

No, no, no. The Chemistry prize was not for the discovery of a substance that’s just pretty and sparkly-glowy. (Although, you know… maybe that is a good reason on its own…) The GFP is hugely important as a marker for studying processes such as the interactions of various cells in biological systems. It has been vital in figuring out what is going on inside the human body, for example, allowing greater understanding of so much of how we function – or how we malfunction. So GFP is a vital tool.

Congratulations to all!

I think it’s Literature tomorrow. Remember the fun of last year with Doris Lessing (with the press meeting her coming home from shopping to ask what she thought of getting the prize) ?

Oh, and did you hear the remarks about American Literature made last week by Horace Engdahl, the head of the Literature Nobel Jury? Story and discussion about it in the Guardian and the Telegraph. I was really shocked by the remarks. Unbelievable! What do you think?


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5 Responses to Prize Watch

  1. janet says:

    Darn, I was having such a good day, and then you have to mention Doris Lessing….

  2. Oliver says:

    More importantly still, the year’s most prestigious award has been announced; a full list of the 2008 Ignoble Prize winners can be found at

  3. Jude says:

    I think it’s great that the Nobel seldom recognizes Gringos for Lit. prizes, mostly because we *are* too insular and it frequently seems to be the only way to get one of us to read something by a foreign author. As for adult fiction, I rarely read it outside of short fiction in the New Yorker because I prefer science fiction and nonfiction. In the last few years, I discovered that within science fiction, I generally prefer young adult science fiction and fantasy to anything written for adults. My current favorite authors are Scott Westerfeld and Jonathan Stroud. None of the authors I read would ever be considered for a Nobel Prize.

  4. Clifford says:

    Jude… try Margaret Atwood.


  5. Clifford says:

    Also… how are you defining “gringo” ?

    Janet… oh, poor Doris Lessing! (But sorry about your day!!)

    Oliver – Thanks!