Physiology or Medicine Nobel Prize 2012

102 Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine have been awarded since 1901. It was not awarded on nine occasions: in 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1921, 1925, 1940, 1941 and 1942.The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet is responsible for selecting the Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine. The Nobel Assembly has 50 voting members and is composed of professors in medical subjects at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. Its working body is the Nobel Committee, elected from among its members for a three-year term.

The 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was announced earlier this week. The prize was awarded to two scientists for their work on reprogramming mature cells to become pluripotent. The prize of 10-million-Swedish-krona (US$1.5-million) was divided, one half jointly to Sir John B. Gurdon, age 79, at the Gurdon Institute, Cambridge, United Kingdom, and Shinya Yamanaka, age 50, at Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan and the Gladstone Institutes, San Francisco, California, USA, for the discovery that mature, specialized cells can be reprogrammed to become immature cells capable of developing into all tissues of the body.

Gurdon worked out that cells could be reprogrammed into a more immature state in 1962. In 2006, Yamanaka worked out how to turn mature cells in mice into stem cells by introducing a few genes. Yamanaka’s ‘induced pluripotent stem cells’ removed the need to use live human embryos to create versatile stem cells

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