Winners of 2019 Nobel Prize in Medicine Announced

Nora Toscano, Reporter

The Nobel committee recently awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to William Kaelin Jr., Sir Peter Ratcliffe and Gregg Semenza.  They collectively won the award for their scientific discoveries about how changing oxygen levels affect human cells.  

The prize was publicized at the Karolinka Institution on October 7.  The three scientists will evenly split the $918,000 award. The committee stated that their revolutionary work has “greatly expanded our knowledge of how physiological response makes life possible.”  With this knowledge, the scientists are attempting to create drugs to fight diseases like cancer and anemia.

Before now, we have known about how vital oxygen is for our body functions, but the laureates confirmed how the amounts of it in our system regulate necessary physiological activities.  They discovered how the oxygen sensing machinery in our cells aid exercise, immune response, respiration, altitude adaptation, and metabolism.

According to Semenza, who incidentally slept through the first phone call from the Nobel committee that would tell him he’d won, a drug to improve the efficacy of chemotherapy for kidney cancer will be the first treatment based off of the research.  He hopes that because of this, drugs to help treat other types of cancer will develop in the future.          

Kaelin, Ratcliffe, and Semenza, along with the laureates of the 2019 Nobel Prizes in chemistry, literature, physics, and peace, will receive their awards on December 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death, at extravagant ceremonies held in Oslo and Stockholm.