2016 Nobel prize season kicks off with medicine prize announcement

2016 Nobel prize season kicks off with medicine prize announcement

PanARMENIAN.Net - The 2016 Nobel prize season kicks off Monday, October 3 with the announcement of the medicine prize by a scandal-tainted jury, to be followed over the next 10 days by the other science awards and those for peace and literature, AFP reports.

The medicine prize winners will be announced as of 11:30 am (0930 GMT). As always, predicting the names of the winners is a game of chance, especially given the number of researchers worthy of the honour.

Swedish public radio SR said possible winners this year could include U.S. scientists Gregg Semenza, William Kaelin and Peter Ratcliffe for their discovery of the molecular mechanisms by which human and animal cells sense and respond to low or inadequate oxygen levels, referred to as hypoxia.

The trio won the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award last month for their pioneering work.

Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter meanwhile cited immunologist James Allison and neurologist Karl Deisseroth, both also of the U.S. , as other potential laureates.

The Karolinska Institute which awards the prestigious medicine prize has however seen its reputation tarnished over a scandal involving Italian surgeon Paolo Macchiarini.

In 2011, while working as a visiting professor at Karolinska, Macchiarini soared to fame for inserting the first synthetic trachea, or windpipe, using patients' stem cells.

His work was initially hailed as a game-changer for transplant medicine. But two patients died and a third was left severely ill.

Allegations ensued that the risky procedure had been carried out on at least one individual who had not, at the time, been critically ill, and in 2014 several surgeons at Karolinska filed a complaint alleging that Macchiarini had downplayed the risks of the procedure.

Karolinska suspended all synthetic trachea transplants shortly after.

Two members of the Nobel medicine prize assembly were forced to step down in September over the scandal.

"Many said that the Karolinska Institute was very closely linked to the Nobel medicine prize and that after a scandal like this they would not be able to evaluate research with equanimity, and so they should take a timeout... But that didn't happen," SR science reporter Ulrika Bjorksten said.

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