2015 Noble Prize in Medicine

The 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to with one half jointly to William C. Campbell (USA) and Satoshi Omura (Japan) for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites and the other half to Youyou Tu (China) for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria.

Diseases caused by parasites have plagued humankind for millennia and constitute a major global health problem. In particular, parasitic diseases affect the world’s poorest populations and represent a huge barrier to improving human health and well-being.

This year’s Nobel Laureates have developed therapies that have revolutionized the treatment of some of the most devastating parasitic diseases.

  1. William C. Campbell and Satoshi Omura discovered a new drug, Avermectin, the derivatives of which have radically lowered the incidence of River Blindness and Lymphatic Filariasis, as well as showing efficacy against an expanding number of other parasitic diseases.
  2. Youyou Tu discovered Artemisinin, a drug that has significantly reduced the mortality rates for patients suffering from Malaria.

These two discoveries have provided humankind with powerful new means to combat these debilitating diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people annually. The consequences in terms of improved human health and reduced suffering are immeasurable.

Their Discoveries and Global Health:

The discoveries of Avermectin and Artemisinin have fundamentally changed the treatment of parasitic diseases. Today the Avermectin-derivative Ivermectin is used in all parts of the world that are plagued by parasitic diseases. Ivermectin is highly effective against a range of parasites, has limited side effects and is freely available across the globe.

The importance of Ivermectin for improving the health and wellbeing of millions of individuals with River Blindness and Lymphatic Filariasis, primarily in the poorest regions of the world, is immeasurable. Treatment is so successful that these diseases are on the verge of eradication, which would be a major feat in the medical history of humankind.

Malaria infects close to 200 million individuals yearly. Artemisinin is used in all Malaria-ridden parts of the world. When used in combination therapy, it is estimated to reduce mortality from Malaria by more than 20% overall and by more than 30% in children. For Africa alone, this means that more than 100 000 lives are saved each year.

The discoveries of Avermectin and Artemisinin have revolutionized therapy for patients suffering from devastating parasitic diseases. Campbell, Omura and Tu have transformed the treatment of parasitic diseases. The global impact of their discoveries and the resulting benefit to mankind are immeasurable.


  • On 27 November 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, giving the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes, the Nobel Prizes. As described in Nobel’s will, one part was dedicated to “the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine”.
  • Number of Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine: 105 Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine have been awarded since 1901. It was not awarded on nine occasions: in 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1921, 1925, 1940, 1941 and 1942.
  • Youngest Medicine Laureate: To date, the youngest Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine is Frederick G. Banting, who was 32 years old when he was awarded the Medicine Prize in 1923.
  • Oldest Medicine Laureate: The oldest Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine to date is Peyton Rous, who was 87 years old when he was awarded the Medicine Prize in 1966.
  • Female Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine: Of the 207 individuals awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, only following 11 are women.
  1. 1947 – Gerty Cori
  2. 1977 – Rosalyn Yalow
  3. 1983 – Barbara McClintock
  4. 1986 – Rita Levi-Montalcini
  5. 1988 – Gertrude B. Elion
  6. 1995 – Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard
  7. 2004 – Linda B. Buck
  8. 2008 – Françoise Barré-Sinoussi
  9. 2009 – Elizabeth H. Blackburn
  10. 2009 – Carol W. Greider
  11. 2014 – May-Britt Moser

Barabara McClintock is the only one who has received an unshared Nobel Prize.

  • Married couples Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine: Gerty Cori and Carl Cori, both awarded the 1947 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine & May-Britt Moser and Edvard I. Moser, both awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
  • Father & son Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine: Hans von Euler-Chelpin (Chemistry Prize) and Ulf von Euler (Medicine Prize) & Arthur Kornberg (Medicine Prize) and Roger D. Kornberg (Chemistry Prize)
  • Brothers Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine: Jan Tinbergen (Economics Prize) and Nikolaas Tinbergen (Medicine Prize)


  • 2014: John O’Keefe, May-Britt Moser and Edvard I. Moser “for their discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain”
  • 2013: James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman and Thomas C. Südhof “for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells”
  • 2012: Sir John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka
    “for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent”
  • 2011: Bruce A. Beutler and Jules A. Hoffmann
    “for their discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity” Ralph M. Steinman
    “for his discovery of the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity”
  • 2010: Robert G. Edwards “for the development of in vitro fertilization”
  • 2009: Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak “for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase”
  • 2008: Harald zur Hausen “for his discovery of human papilloma viruses causing cervical cancer” Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier “for their discovery of human immunodeficiency virus”
  • 2007: Mario R. Capecchi, Sir Martin J. Evans and Oliver Smithies “for their discoveries of principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells”
  • 2006: Andrew Z. Fire and Craig C. Mello
    “for their discovery of RNA interference – gene silencing by double-stranded RNA”
  • 2005: Barry J. Marshall and J. Robin Warren “for their discovery of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease”
  • 2004: Richard Axel and Linda B. Buck “for their discoveries of odorant receptors and the organization of the olfactory system”
  • 2003: Paul C. Lauterbur and Sir Peter Mansfield “for their discoveries concerning magnetic resonance imaging”
  • 2002: Sydney Brenner, H. Robert Horvitz and John E. Sulston “for their discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death'”
  • 2001: Leland H. Hartwell, Tim Hunt and Sir Paul M. Nurse “for their discoveries of key regulators of the cell cycle”
  • 2000: Arvid Carlsson, Paul Greengard and Eric R. Kandel “for their discoveries concerning signal transduction in the nervous system”