Live Blog: 2013 Nobel Prize announcements

The winners of the 2013 Nobel Prizes are being announced this week in Stockholm. The Local brings you all the latest news, reactions, and details surrounding the winners and why they won.

Live Blog: 2013 Nobel Prize announcements

Monday, October 7th: Physiology or Medicine Prize

Oliver Gee, 14.49pm

I'm shutting down this blog for today, but read my whole interview with Göran Hansson here. He used a nice metaphor about Stockholm transport to explain the winning discovery, explained the practicality of the research for the man on the street, and told us why so few women have won the award.

Thanks for reading, and tune in again tomorrow for the Nobel Prize in Physics, where editor David Landes will be on the scene and at the helm. Cheers.

Oliver Gee, 12.22pm

Just spoke to Göran Hansson, Secretary General of the Nobel Committee at Karolinska Institutet. He explained the win in simple English, explaining that the prize was awarded for the expansion of scientific knowledge rather than the practical use of the discovery.

More soon, I'm heading back to the office.

Ann Törnkvist, 11:52

"It was in one way expected, as they recently got the world's second most prestigious prize, the Lasker Prize," Swedish science journalist Karin Bojs told Sveriges Television (SVT) upon news of the announcement.

Oliver Gee, 11.51am

Announcement over, time to go and try and snag an interview or two and to try and get to the bottom of all this.

Oliver Gee, 11.49am

Straight from the horses mouth:

"Each cell is a factory that produces and exports molecules. For instance, insulin is manufactured and released into the blood and chemical signals called neurotransmitters are sent from one nerve cell to another. These molecules are transported around the cell in small packages called vesicles. The three Nobel Laureates have discovered the molecular principles that govern how this cargo is delivered to the right place at the right time in the cell."

Pretty straight forward, really.

Oliver Gee, 11.45am

What did the prize winners say when they were informed of their win? Göran Hansson responds: "I've spoken to Rothman and Schekman and they were both delighted… they're both looking forward to coming to Stockholm."

Oliver Gee, 11.43am

Background on the winners:

James E. Rothman, born in 1950 in Massachusetts, in the US, studied at Harvard Medical School and was a postdoctoral fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Started his cell research at Stanford.

Randy W. Schekman, born in 1948 in Minnesota, in the US, studied at Stanford and the University of California. Currently the professor in Molecular and Cell Biology at University of California at Berkeley.

Thomas C. Sudhof: Born in 1955 in Göttingen, Germany, her studied at Georg-August-Universität in Germany and later at the University of Texas. Later he became an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and more recently has been appointed at Stanford University.

Oliver Gee, 11.40am

A few perplexed faces here, though one man started clapping. Allow us to break this all down as the jury motivates their choice.

Oliver Gee, 11.35am

WINNERS ANNOUNCED: Göran Hansson, Secretary General of the Nobel Committee at Karolinska Institutet announced the winners: James Rothman, Randy Schekman, and Thomas Sudhof for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells.

Oliver Gee, 11.25am

Here, why not watch what I am watching:

Oliver Gee, 11.23am

I am here at the Karolinska Institute. In a crowd of journalists and spectators. Cameras and microphones. We're all just waiting now… a hush has passed over the crowd as we wait for the jury to come and share the news.

Ann Törnkvist, 10:47

Another tidbit. It's not enough to be an eminent researcher, you have to be what head of the jury Göran K. Hansson calls a "discoverer" – and not only that… the discovery has to be paradigm-shifting. In other words, not something that simply nudges science along, but something that either unlocks new potential or has the scientific community reexamining that area in a completely new light.

Ann Törnkvist, 10:35am

Some facts about the prize: The average age of medicine laureates is 57, but Frederick G. Banting was 32 when he won in 1923 for discovering insulin. Peyton Rous, meanwhile, was the oldest laureate so far. At age 87, he was was recognized in 1966 for his discovery of tumour-inducing viruses.

Ann Törnkvist, 10:12am

Last year's medicine prize went to John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka for research into stem cells for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripoint.

Oliver Gee, 10.01am

Hello readers and welcome to The Local's Live Blog of the Nobel Prize announcements for 2013. Here, we will report on all the announcements live from the scene.

Today, we're kicking off with "Physiology or Medicine" – a prize which has been given by the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet to 201 people since 1901.

But what (or who) is Nobel, and what are the prizes all about? Read more about Swedish scientist Alfred Nobel himself, his invention of gunpowder, and how his last will and testament led to the modern Nobel Prizes.

The Local

Follow The Local on Twitter

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


US duo win Nobel for work on how heat and touch spark signals to the brain

US scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian on Monday won the Nobel Medicine Prize for discoveries on receptors for temperature and touch.

US duo win Nobel for work on how heat and touch spark signals to the brain
Thomas Perlmann (right), the Secretary of the Nobel Committee, stands next to a screen showing David Julius (L) and Ardem Patapoutian, winners of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Medicine. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP

“The groundbreaking discoveries… by this year’s Nobel Prize laureates have allowed us to understand how heat, cold and mechanical force can initiate the nerve impulses that allow us to perceive and adapt to the world,” the Nobel jury said.

The pair’s research is being used to develop treatments for a wide range of diseases and conditions, including chronic pain. Julius, who in 2019 won the $3-million Breakthrough Prize in life sciences, said he was stunned to receive the call from the Nobel committee early Monday.

“One never really expects that to happen …I thought it was a prank,” he told Swedish Radio.

The Nobel Foundation meanwhile posted a picture of Patapoutian next to his son Luca after hearing the happy news.

Our ability to sense heat, cold and touch is essential for survival, the Nobel Committee explained, and underpins our interaction with the world around us.

“In our daily lives we take these sensations for granted, but how are nerve impulses initiated so that temperature and pressure can be perceived? This question has been solved by this year’s Nobel Prize laureates.”

Prior to their discoveries, “our understanding of how the nervous system senses and interprets our environment still contained a fundamental unsolved question: how are temperature and mechanical stimuli converted into electrical impulses in the nervous system.”

Grocery store research

Julius, 65, was recognised for his research using capsaicin — a compound from chili peppers that induces a burning sensation — to identify which nerve sensors in the skin respond to heat.

He told Scientific American in 2019 that he got the idea to study chili peppers after a visit to the grocery store.  “I was looking at these shelves and shelves of basically chili peppers and extracts (hot sauce) and thinking, ‘This is such an important and such a fun problem to look at. I’ve really got to get serious about this’,” he said.

Patapoutian’s pioneering discovery was identifying the class of nerve sensors that respond to touch.

Julius, a professor at the University of California in San Francisco and the 12-year-younger Patapoutian, a professor at Scripps Research in California, will share the Nobel Prize cheque for 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.1 million, one million euros).

The pair were not among the frontrunners mentioned in the speculation ahead of the announcement.

Pioneers of messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, which paved the way for mRNA Covid vaccines, and immune system researchers had been widely tipped as favourites.

While the 2020 award was handed out in the midst of the pandemic, this is the first time the entire selection process has taken place under the shadow of Covid-19.

Last year, the award went to three virologists for the discovery of the Hepatitis C virus.

Media, Belarus opposition for Peace Prize?

The Nobel season continues on Tuesday with the award for physics and Wednesday with chemistry, followed by the much-anticipated prizes for literature on Thursday and peace on Friday before the economics prize winds things up on Monday, October 11.

For the Peace Prize on Friday, media watchdogs such as Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists have been mentioned as possible winners, as has the Belarusian opposition spearheaded by Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Also mentioned are climate campaigners such as Sweden’s Greta Thunberg and her Fridays for Future movement.

Meanwhile, for the Literature Prize on Thursday, Stockholm’s literary circles have been buzzing with the names of dozens of usual suspects.

The Swedish Academy has only chosen laureates from Europe and North America since 2012 when China’s Mo Yan won, raising speculation that it could choose to rectify that imbalance this year. A total of 95 of 117 literature laureates have come from Europe and North America.

While the names of the Nobel laureates are kept secret until the last minute, the Nobel Foundation has already announced that the glittering prize ceremony and banquet held in Stockholm in December for the science and literature laureates will not happen this year due to the pandemic.

Like last year, laureates will receive their awards in their home countries. A decision has yet to be made about the lavish Peace Prize ceremony held in Oslo on the same day.