Alfred Nobel was a scientist and inventor who made an impact in the fields of chemistry and engineering. In 1895, Nobel signed his last will in which he declared that more than half of his fortune (about 265 million USD) would be used to award the people who made substantial changes in the areas of chemistry, physics, peace, literature, and physiology or medicine. There is no specific Nobel Prize for the field of Biology, but being a vast science, it is included in the fields chosen by Nobel, especially in physiology or medicine and chemistry. Some of the Nobel laureates who have made a significant impact in areas related to biology are discussed here.
Jacobus H. Hoff – First Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1901
Discovery of the importance of osmosis in life
Jacobus was a physical chemist who made significant discoveries and advances in the field of theoretical chemistry. In 1901, he won the first Nobel Prize in chemistry for developing the laws of chemical dynamics and discovering the importance of osmosis. His discovery explained how osmotic pressure impacted plants and animals. In his lecture, Hoff explained how osmotic pressure leads to withering and the rise of water from the roots to the leaves in plants.
Emil Von Adolf – First Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine 1901
Research on serum therapy and its application in the treatment of diphtheria.
Adolf’s research was based on the understanding that the body’s immune system has ways of fighting against infectious microorganisms. When attacked, the immune system releases antibodies that prevent the action of microbes in the body. Adolf found that these antibodies could be transferred from one person or animal to another using serum, thus enabling the other individual to gain immunity. Using his serum therapy discovery, Adolf was able to treat diphtheria in horses.
Tu Youyou – Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2015
Discovered an effective treatment for malaria (artemisinin and dihydroartemisinin)
Tu Youyou is a pharmaceutical chemist who discovered the treatment for malaria in the 20th century. She became the first female Nobel laureate from The People’s Republic of China. She carried out her research during the Vietnam War when many soldiers were infected with a form of malaria that was resistant to chloroquine, the common form of treatment at the time. Scientists worldwide had studied all the known compounds that could be used to treat malaria without success. Tu decided to study traditional Chinese herbal medicine and ended up isolating an effective compound from the Artemisia annua plant. The compound was named qinghaosu (commonly known as artemisinin), and it was found to be one of the world’s most effective antimalarial drugs.
Frances H. Arnold – Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2018
Pioneered the directed evolution of enzymes
Frances Arnold is a chemical engineer whose research on enzymes revolutionized bioprocessing. She developed directed evolution of enzymes in 1993 and her innovation led to the modern-day application of enzymes in manufacturing. Enzymes are important biochemicals that are used to catalyze chemical reactions in living things. The use of Frances’ method of directed evolution of enzymes has enabled their application in many different manufacturing processes to catalyze reactions. The use of enzymes in manufacturing is advantageous because they are environmentally friendly.
Sir Robert Edwards – Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine 2010
Pioneered in vitro fertilization
Sir Robert Edwards was a physiologist who made a great impact in the field of reproductive medicine. He carried out research on human fertilization and developed a method of achieving successful fertilization in the laboratory. When his method proved to be applicable, Edwards worked with other researchers leading to the birth of Louis Brown, the first test-tube baby, in 1978. During this period, In vitro fertilization was a very controversial issue, thus the researchers faced a lot of hostility and opposition in their research. At the time of Sir Edward’s death in 2013, over four million births had been achieved all over the world using in vitro fertilization.
Francoise Barre-sinoussi – Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine 2008
Isolation of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
Francoise is a virologist and activist who has dedicated her career to studying AIDS and preventing its spread. In 1982, while working as a researcher at the Pasteur Institute, she isolated HIV, which was found to be the cause of AIDS. This was a very significant discovery because there was an AIDS epidemic at the time and scientists did not understand its cause. Her discovery led to a better understanding of the virus, and the development of the tests, vaccines and treatments that are used today for HIV. Francoise was awarded this Nobel Prize jointly with her mentor Luc Montagnier.
The work of these Nobel laureates has led to the advancement of Biology and science in general. Life, as we know it today, is a product of the innovations of these, and many other scientists, who have dedicated their careers to finding solutions to science problems. Choosing a career in the sciences, and especially in biology, can be difficult, but it is rewarding as shown by the men and women discussed here. In case of any difficulty in this field, biology homework help from dedicated experts is always available.