Watch back: Three physician-scientists receive Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

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By Lauren Chadwick
2018 Nobel Prize Award Ceremony
2018 Nobel Prize Award Ceremony   -   Copyright  Copyright © Nobel Media AB 2018. Photo: Nanaka Adachi

The Nobel Prizes will be awarded this week, starting with the Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Monday.

The prize was awarded on Monday to William G. Kaelin Jr, Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza “for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability.”

The two Americans and one Brit are from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Oxford University, and Johns Hopkins University.

"This prize is for three physician-scientists who found the molecular switch that regulates how our cells adapt when oxygen levels drop," said Prof Randall Johnson, a member of the Nobel Assembly and professor at Cambridge University, who described the background of the laureates' work.

The prize amount is 9 million Swedish kronor (roughly €830,000). Each day this week, a different prize will be awarded.

The Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded on Friday.

The prize money comes from the estate of Alfred Nobel, a Swedish businessman and engineer who invented dynamite. The first Nobel prizes were awarded in 1901.

The prize in physiology or medicine was awarded last year jointly to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo, for each discovering proteins that function as a brake on the immune system.

The two discoveries showed how inhibiting breaks on the immune system can be used to treat cancer.

To date, the youngest Nobel Laureate to win the prize in physiology or medicine is Frederick G. Banting who was awarded the prize in medicine in 1923 when he was just 32-years-old. The oldest laureate is Peyton Rous who was 87 years old when he was awarded the prize in 1966.

Just 12 women have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine out of 216 recipients.

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