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 2021

This year’s medicine prize is awarded to David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian. Their discoveries have unlocked one of the secrets of nature by explaining the molecular basis for sensing heat, cold and mechanical force, which is fundamental for our ability to feel, interpret and interact with our internal and external environment.

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

The Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute has decided to award the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian “for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch”.
David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian

Ill. Niklas Elmehed © Nobel Prize Outreach

Did you know?

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

Explore prizes and laureates

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.

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