The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Alfred Nobel made his fortune, which he used to endow the Nobel prizes, from dynamite. He invented a way to stabilize nitroglycerine, which is very unstable and tends to explode unexpectedly. Towards the end of his life he was prescribed nitroglycerine as a treatment for his angina, which he found rather ironic; as he noted in a letter to a friend

“It sounds like the irony of fate that I have been prescribed nitroglycerine internally. They have named it Trinitrin in order not to upset pharmacists and the public.Your affectionate friend,

A. Nobel

Nitroglycerine works by releasing nitric oxide in the tissues, so when Furchgott, Ignarro and Murad won the Nobel prize in 1998 for the discovery of the importance of nitric oxide in blood vessels and, among other things, how nitroglycerine helps angina by releasing nitric oxide, the irony was compounded.

The newest Nobel prize doesn’t have that same resonance for me, I use nitric oxide for my patients, but I don’t know if I will ever use pluripotent stem cells derived from adult cells. Nevertheless one thing which is impressive is how fast an insititution can use the announcement of a Nobel prize to set up a new website! The same day as the announcement of the prize a web page has sprung up, from the insitution of one of the winners, I guess there must be money in there somewhere. The only other comment I have is that the other winner, John Gurdon from Cambridge UK has really bad hair.

About Keith Barrington

I am a neonatologist and clinical researcher at Sainte Justine University Health Center in Montréal
This entry was posted in Neonatal Research. Bookmark the permalink.

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