Nobel Prize Award for Physiology and Medicine 1906 - 1915

About the winners of the Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine from 1906 to 1915 including Ehrlich, Carrel, and Richet, what they won for, as well as behind the scenes information on the decision.

1906 Camillo Golgi (c. 1843-1925), Italy. Santiago Ramon y Cajal (1852-1934), Spain. Work: Research on the nervous system and the distribution of cells.

1907 Charles L. A. Laveran (1845-1922), France. Work: Study of disease caused by protozoa.

1908 Paul Ehrlich (1845-1915), German. Elie Metchnikoff (1845-1916), French (b. Russia). Work: Introduction of quantitative methods and other work on immunology.

Behind the' Award--The Nobel committee had some doubts about awarding the prize to Ehrlich because of criticism of his "sidechain theory." However, they gave it to him anyway. Ehrlich felt that certain disease organisms had an affinity for specific body organs; he created modern clinical hematology; he discovered that the tubercle bacillus is acid-fast. One of his greatest achievements was the production of preparation 606, an arsenic compound called salvarsan, that cured syphilis. Kaiser Wilhelm II was very pleased with Ehrlich for winning the award. He was so pleased that he invited Ehrlich to an audience, during which he suggested that the scientist find a cure for cancer. (The Kaiser was worried about cancer in his family.) When Ehrlich refused to make any promises about a cancer cure, the Kaiser ended the audience.

1909 Emil Theodor Kocher (1841-1917), Swiss. Work: Work on the thyroid gland.

1910 Albrecht Kossell (1853-1927), German. Work: Study of cell chemistry.

1911 Allvar Gullstrand (1862-1930), Swedish. Work: Research on the refraction of light through the eye (ocular dioptrics).

1912 Alexis Carrel (1873-1944), American (b. France). Work: Development of surgical techniques--vascular suture and transplantation of blood vessels and organs.

Behind the Award--A letter from a Washington, D.C., physician: "I spoke with one of the Nobel Prize committee, who was active at the time [and] the name of Dr. Harvey Cushing came up for selection in the field of medicine. The Swedish doctor told me that after it became apparent that the Nobel Prize was awarded to Dr. Alexis Carrel for a work which was subsequently demonstrated not to be his in origin, the Nobel Prize committee in medicine simply and flatly decided that never again would the prize be awarded a surgeon. The prize was denied to Dr. Cushing on this basis alone."

1913 Charles R. Richet (1850-1935), French. Work: Research on anaphylaxis (allergies).

Behind the Award--It was by accident that Richet discovered the effects of prolonged exposure in allergic reactions. In 1898, he was trying to find the toxic dose of poison from a sea anemone, by testing an extract made from anemone tentacles on dogs. To the survivors of the 1st round of tests he gave smaller doses than he had the 1st time. All of them got sick, much to his surprise, and one died, even though the dose was one he considered below lethal level. He reached the conclusion that this "induced sensitization" was partially caused by changes in the body brought about by the 1st dose. This led to research in allergy and the realization that it can be due to exposure to anything in the environment--strawberries, cat hair, house dust, or one's spouse.

1914 Robert Barany (1876-1936), Austrian. Work: Study of the inner ear.

1915 No Award

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