The Nobel prize in physiology or medicine
- By: Anna Mead-Robson
The Nobel prize originated in the will of Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist famous for inventing dynamite. Much to the dismay of his family, Nobel chose to contribute most of his estate towards the establishment of a prize for people who had conferred “the greatest benefit on mankind.” Originally the prize was awarded in five disciplines—physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and contribution towards peace.
The first Nobel prize in physiology or medicine was awarded in 1901 to Emil von Behring, a German physiologist who was recognised for his discovery of a diphtheria vaccine. Other notable early recipients include Ronald Ross, a UK doctor who won the prize in 1902 for discovering the role of mosquitoes in malaria transmission; Karl Landsteiner, who won the prize in 1930 for his discovery of human blood groups; and Alexander Fleming, Ernst Chain, and Howard Florey, who together won the prize in 1945 for