Nobel Prize 2015 Liveblog

October 7th, 2015

Watching the live stream and weighing in with babble:

4:48 am – They’re here!

4:49 am – This always gets my blood pumping.

4:50 am – Wow…DNA repair, but not the 2015 Lasker Award winners for DNA repair.

4:52 am – The winning scientists: Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar

4:58 am – I’d love to know how the committee arrived at these three scientists out of the many possibilities. This one is sure to be controversial.

5:04 am – Doesn’t appear that any of the laureates won a ‘pre-Nobel’ like the Lasker. Their Wikipedia pages are also sparse, though I’m sure that will change within the next few hours.

5:06 am – Looking for the seminal papers now…

5:16 am – Looks like the seminar Modrich paper is 1983 PNAS cited 286 times.

5:24 am – In addition to this year’s Lasker winners (Elledge and Witkin), you might also argue that Richard Wood could have a claim?

5:28 am – I’m not at all saying they don’t deserve it, but I’m having a hard time understanding how the Nobel committee picked these three scientists for DNA-damage repair. The technical document released by the committee isn’t really making it clear, either. I’d love to hear someone in this field weigh in.

5:30 am – And while people are already crying that biology stole yet another chemistry Nobel, this is a pretty molecular field. This is certainly in chemistry’s strike zone.

15 Responses to “Nobel Prize 2015 Liveblog”

  1. Graet Chem Says:

    Worthy winners to be sure, but as you point out so are several other scientists.

    I’ve always had problems with the Nobel Prize’s fitness for purpose in recognising the breakthroughs made on major research challenges like this. They are hardly ever a result of the genius of a few and sadly the award of the Nobel does tend to diminish the achievements of those who are overlooked, at least outside their immediate scientific area.

    But this is hardly a new thing in 2015 and recognition of “team science” isn’t just a problem with the Nobels, so I’m glad that the science Nobels still garner such interest in the wider media.

  2. Paul Bracher Says:

    @Great Chem: I completely agree. I’m not sure how to make sense of this. In most years past, if there was a snub, you could point to one person (Somorjai in 2007 or Prasher in 2008). Here, I think you could make an argument for dozens.

    Hundreds of scientists work in this area, but who is considered the father or king? Is anyone?

  3. Paul Bracher Says:

    Perhaps, also in the past, the Nobel Committee let the Lasker and/or Wolf do the dirty work of making the hard decisions in crowded fields.

    Here, despite the existence of a Lasker Award in the area, the Nobel went out on its own. A reporter should have asked this at the press conference, but I bet this prize wasn’t on their radar. The spokesman was begging for questions and the only ones that came were pretty generic.

  4. madchemist Says:

    This year, for some reason, Peter Schultz seemed to be the crowd favorite (or chemistry bloggers’ favorite) for the Nobel. Unfortunately, he has to wait for another decade or so before the rotating table turns towards Chemical Biology once again. Yet another year, yet another surprise.

  5. asdf Says:

    Lindahl has won both Copley and Royal medals from the Royal Society, so it’s not like he hasn’t been recognized for DNA repair before.

  6. DNA_Dunce Says:

    The prize was richly deserved. There are other scientists who must surely have been in contention but at the end of the day the Nobel can only be split three ways.

  7. Biochemist chimes in Says:

    Completely different field than the lasker, which went to the biological response to DNA damage. These are the chemists who discovered the molecular mechanisms of DNA repair. Like Hartl/Horwich vs Walter/Ron/Mori. BER, MMR, and NER are the the canonical branches of repair, and Sancar and Modrich are pretty uncontroversial leaders of their respective branches. Don’t know Lindahl.

  8. Kevin Says:

    The hedgehogs take it.

  9. Graet Chem Says:

    @Biochemist chimes in: I’m no expert so that may well be true, but the citations for the Lasker and the Nobel don’t read like that (both clearly refer to discovering molecular pathways/mechanisms) so pretty confusing for anyone outside the direct area.

  10. Boron Says:

    I’m familiar with Dr. Modrich’s work. He is an outstanding scientist. Unquestionably Nobel-calibre in my estimation.

  11. Sean Robert Meaney Says:

    Phuttt! Stringtheory undermines evolution because at superposition all life is the same life. Lets see Nobel prize categories hold up against pure math.

  12. TheMindOfAChemist Says:

    I am so curious about how they pick three scientist out of A LOT of other scientists.

  13. Solomon Derese Says:

    It must a nice feeling to get recognized for all the hard work.

  14. denis mboya Says:

    actually is a good feeling to be recognized. i appreciate for the post.

  15. bad wolf Says:

    Sad, I guess Paul is no longer considered an expert! Well we all have to move on sometime.

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