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.

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The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2018

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2018 was awarded to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo "for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation." The Laureates has shown how different strategies for inhibiting the brakes on the immune system can be used in the treatment of cancer. Their discoveries are a landmark in our fight against cancer.

© The Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine. Illustrator: Mattias Karlén

Did you know?

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2017

For many years we have known that living organisms have an internal, biological clock that helps them adapt to the regular rhythm of the day. But how does this clock actually work? Using fruit flies as a model organism, the 2017 Nobel Laureates isolated a gene that controls the normal daily biological rhythm.

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Image: The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet

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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.

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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.

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Illustration depicting autophagy

Image: The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet

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