Three scientists share Nobel Prize in medicine

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The Independent Online

Arvid Carlsson, Paul Greengard and Eric Kandel won the Nobel Prize in medicine Monday for their discoveries concerning "signal transduction in the nervous system."

Arvid Carlsson, Paul Greengard and Eric Kandel won the Nobel Prize in medicine Monday for their discoveries concerning "signal transduction in the nervous system."

The three Nobel laureates made pioneering discoveries "concerning one type of signal transduction between nerve cells, referred to as slow synaptic transmission," according to the award citation.

These discoveries have been crucial for an understanding of the normal function of the normal function of the brain and have resulted in the development of new drugs, the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute said.

The medicine prize was the first announced in a week of awards.

The winners of the prizes for physics and chemistry will be announced Tuesday and for economics - the only one not established in Nobel's will - on Wednesday in Stockholm.

The awards culminate Friday with the coveted peace prize in Oslo, Norway. The award for physiology or medicine is worth 9 million kronor (dlrs 915,000) this year.

The Swedish Academy, which traditionally keeps the date of the literature prize secret until a couple days before it announces the winner, has not set a time yet, but it is always a Thursday, usually in October.

The suspense for the literature award was heightened last week when the academy failed to reach a decision.

Alfred Nobel, the Swedish industrialist and inventor of dynamite, left only vague guidelines in his will establishing the prizes. The selection committees deliberate in strict secrecy.

The only public hints available are for the peace prize. The five-member awards committee never reveals the candidates, but sometimes those making the nominations announce their favorites.

This year that includes U.S. President Bill Clinton and former President Jimmy Carter for wide-ranging peace efforts, as well as former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell for his efforts to resolve conflict in Northern Ireland.

Other reported nominees are former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari and former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin for their Balkan peace efforts; South Korean President Kim Dae-jung for promoting good relations in Asia; and a town, northern Albania's Kukes, for accepting 150,000 refugees during the Kosovo conflict.

The literature and peace laureates are usually the most visible, but the new adjectives "Nobel winner" often also bring scientists more attention from outside their laboratories.

As for the first announcement, Nobel's direction that a prize be awarded to the person who made "the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine" is interpreted by a committee of 50 professors from the world-renowned Karolinska Institute in the Swedish capital.

The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska invites nominations from previous recipients, professors of medicine and other professionals worldwide before whittling down its choices in the Autumn, as do the other selection committees.

Last year's winner was Dr. Guenter Blobel, 64, a German native and U.S. citizen who discovered how proteins find their rightful places in cells - a process that goes awry in diseases like cystic fibrosis and plays a key role in the manufacture of some medicines.

The awards always are presented Dec. 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death in 1896.