The Nobel week has begun – a briefing on Alfred Nobel and the prizes

Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) was born in Stockholm, Sweden, and was part of a well-known family. He descended from O. Rudbeck, the best Swedish technical genius in the 17th century, when Sweden was a great power in northern Europe. Alfred Nobel himself, was a cosmopolitan, he lived in Petersburg, Stockholm and Paris. He was an inventor and a great entrepreneur. The invention of dynamite made him successful, but caused problems. Nobel was, nonetheless, very interested in social issues and peace, which is reflected in the prize he established, with his will.

Alfred Nobel and the Nobel prize Medal (modified, from

The Nobel Prize Award Ceremony takes place at the Stockholm Concert Hall, Sweden, on the 10th of December every year – the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death, since it was his will that made all this possible. At the ceremony, the Nobel Prize in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and the Prize in Economic Sciences are awarded to the Nobel Laureates of each year. Alfred Nobel chose which institutions were worthy of choosing the Laureates each year: “The prizes for physics and chemistry shall be awarded by the Swedish Academy of Sciences; that for physiology or medical works by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm; that for literature by the Academy in Stockholm, and that for champions of peace by a committee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian Storting. It is my express wish that in awarding the prizes no consideration be given to the nationality of the candidates, but that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be Scandinavian or not.” 

Picture of Alfred Nobel’s will (from

Since then, Karolinska Institutet has been responsible for choosing the winners of each year’s Nobel award in Physiology or Medicine. The judges decide in absolute secrecy inside the Nobel Forum Building, in KI campus Solna.

img_20160818_134404Model building of Nobel Forum at Karolinska Institutet.

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2016 was awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi “for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy”. The Nobel lecture will be held by Yoshinori Ohsumi himself, at Aula Medica, on Wednesday, the 7th of December (OBS! tomorrow!). All the students will be queuing up to seize the opportunity to hear the lecture. So exciting!

Yoshinori Ohsumi, Nobel Prize in Psysiology or Medicine Laureate, 2016.

The Laureates from the previous years are never forgotten – The Nobel Museum in Gamla Stan illustrates a century of creativity. Each Laureate is presented in a random order through a portrait and Prize citation along a unique cableway in the ceiling of the Museum. In the bistro of the museum one should also lift the chairs and take a look: the laureates sign their autographs under the chairs the were siting on!

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2015 was given to William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura “for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites” and  to Youyou Tu “for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria”. On this chair, Satoshi Ōmura signed his autograph last year (exhibit from the Nobel Museum).

It is truly exciting for me, as a new student, to be here for the Nobel ceremony this year. It is amazing that we are given the opportunity to pick the brains of the most re-known scientists of the world, every year!

‘Till the next time!

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How to find me (personal media):
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Pictures: personal collection (mostly exhibits from the Nobel Museum)

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