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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All Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine

The microscope that Medicine Laureate Ralph Steinman used daily.

© Nobel Media. Photo: Alexander Mahmoud

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2020

This year’s Medicine Prize is awarded to three scientists who have made a decisive contribution to the fight against blood-borne hepatitis, a major global health problem that causes cirrhosis and liver cancer in people around the world. The Nobel Laureates’ discovery of Hepatitis C virus is a landmark achievement in the ongoing battle against viral diseases.

Read the press release

Scientific background: The discovery of Hepatitis C virus

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

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded jointly to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice “for the discovery of Hepatitis C virus”. Thanks to their discovery, highly sensitive blood tests for the virus are now available and these have essentially eliminated post-transfusion hepatitis in many parts of the world, greatly improving global health.

© Nobel Media. Ill. Niklas Elmehed.

Did you know?

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.

Youyou Tu

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