The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1986
Born: 17 November 1922, Brooklyn, NY, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, USA
Prize motivation: "for their discoveries of growth factors."
Prize share: 1/2
Human beings develop from a single cell that divides to form new cells. These new cells then also further divide and multiply. Little by little, different types of cells with different functions are formed. After Rita Levi Montalcini discovered a substance that promotes growth of the nervous system, in the mid-1950s Stanley Cohen discovered another growth factor that promotes growth of cells in the skin and cornea. The discovery of what are now known as growth factors has provided a deeper understanding of medical problems like deformities, senile dementia, delayed wound healing, and tumor diseases.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.