Nobel Prize Award for Physiology and Medicine 1931 - 1940

About the winners of the Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine from 1931 to 1940 including Adrian, Spemann, and Heymans, as well as behind the scenes information on the decision.

1931 Otto H. Warberg (1883-1970), German. Work: Discovery of certain aspects of the respiratory enzyme.

1932 Edgar D. Adrian (1889- ), English. Charles S. Sherrington (1857-1952), English. Work: Research on the nervous system, particularly the function of neurons. Behind the Award--Previous to winning the award in 1932, Sherrington had received 134 nominations, beginning in 1902. If he hadn't lived so long, he might never have received the prize. His greatest discovery--his magisterial concept of the "integrative action of the nervous system"--was not mentioned in his citation.

1933 Thomas H. Morgan (1866-1945), American. Work: Discovery of the function of chromosomes in heredity.

1934 George R. Minot (1885-1950), American.

William P. Murphy (1892- ), American.

George H. Whipple (1878- ), American. Work: Discovery that liver extract increases formation of red blood cells.

1935 Hans Spemann (1869-1941), German. Work: Research in the development of the embryo.

Behind the Award--At the time Spemann received the award, German scientists were fleeing the Hitler regime in droves.

1936 Henry H. Dale (1875-1968), English. Otto Loewi (1873-1961), American (b. Germany). Work: Discoveries relating to nerve impulses.

1937 Albert von Szent-Gyorgyi (1893- ), American (b. Hungary). Work: Research in metabolism and vitamins.

1938 Corneille J. F. Heymans (1892-1968), Belgian. Work: Discovery of how the carotid sinus affects respiration rate.

1939 Gerhard Domagk (1895-1964), German. Work: Discovery of the 1st sulfa drug. Behind the Award--W.W. II started before the prize was awarded to Domagk, who was a German. Even so, the majority of the professors at the Caroline Institute wanted to give it to him for his discovery of the 1st "miracle drug," which saved so many lives during the war. However, the Kultur Ministerium in Berlin sent a telegram to the Swedish Foreign Office, saying that the award wasn't wanted. The Nobel committee gave the prize to Domagk anyway. Domagk tried to find out what the German Government wanted to do, but without success. He wrote the Nobel committee thanking them, adding that he had to await his Government's decision before he could accept. He was asked to send a copy of his letter to the German Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Shortly after, he was arrested and taken at gunpoint to police headquarters, where he was treated roughly and interrogated by an SS officer. He was released, then arrested again, and forced to turn down the prize. Since this was the 1st time the prize had been declined, the committee had to make a decision about what to do in such cases. They decided they would return the prize money to the general fund if it were not collected before October 1 of the following year. After the war, Domagk wanted to accept the prize, but it was too late. However, he was invited to the 1947 Nobel Festival, where his achievements were praised and he was given a diploma and gold medal, but no money.

1940 No Award

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