The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Randy Schekman bought his first microscope at the age of 12. In 2013, he became a Medicine Laureate.

© Nobel Media. Photo: Alexander Mahmoud

About the prize

“The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: /- – -/ one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine …” (Excerpt from the will of Alfred Nobel)

Alfred Nobel had an active interest in medical research. Through Karolinska Institutet, he came into contact with Swedish physiologist Jöns Johansson around 1890. Johansson worked in Nobel’s laboratory in Sevran, France during a brief period the same year. Physiology or medicine was the third prize area Nobel mentioned in his will.

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded by the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

See all medicine laureates or learn more about the nomination process.

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2022

Through his pioneering research, Svante Pääbo accomplished something seemingly impossible: sequencing the genome of the Neanderthal, an extinct relative of present-day humans. He also made the sensational discovery of a previously unknown hominin, Denisova. Importantly, Pääbo also found that gene transfer had occurred from these now extinct hominins to Homo sapiens following the migration out of Africa around 70,000 years ago. This ancient flow of genes to present-day humans has physiological relevance today, for example affecting how our immune system reacts to infections.
Denisova, Neanderthal and H. sapiens

© The Nobel Committe for Physiology or Medicine. Ill. Mattias Karlén

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

The Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institutet has decided to award the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Svante Pääbo “for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution”.
Svante Pääbo

Ill. Niklas Elmehed © Nobel Prize Outreach

Did you know?

2022 medicine prize

Svante Pääbo was interviewed just after he had heard news of the award of his Nobel Prize. Watch or read the interview.
Svante Pääbo

Svante Pääbo after receiving the call about being awarded the 2022 medicine prize on 3 October 2022.

Photo: Linda Vigilant

Explore prizes and laureates

Medicine prize Q&A

Learn more about how the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is decided and awarded in this interview with medicine prize awarder Juleen Zierath.
Juleen Zierath

Juleen Zierath, professor of physiology

© Nobel Prize Outreach. Photo: Andrew Hart

Who did what?

Nobel Prizes and laureates

The microscope that medicine laureate Ralph Steinman used daily.

© Nobel Media. Photo: Alexander Mahmoud

Explore a new storytelling experience that celebrates and explores the contributions, careers and lives of the 19 women who have been awarded Nobel Prizes for their scientific achievements.
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How do we know where we are? How can we find the way from one place to another? Thanks to the discovery of the brain’s “inner GPS” we now have a better understanding for how we manage to orient ourselves in space.

May-Britt Moser in the laboratory

Laureate May-Britt Moser in the laboratory

Photo: Geir Mo

Tu Youyou scoured ancient literature on herbal medicine in her quest to develop novel malaria therapies. A key insight into how to preserve the active ingredient during processing led to the discovery of artemisinin, which has saved many lives.

Tu Youyou

Tu Youyou, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2015

© Nobel Media. Photo: Alexander Mahmoud

Follow how the discoveries Yoshinori Ohsumi made in baker’s yeast led to a new understanding of how our own cells recycle their contents. Autophagy, or ‘self-eating’ refers to the way our cells can degrade and then re-use their own contents.

Dragon ohsumi

Illustration depicting autophagy

Image: The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet