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16 Oct 2019

EC highlights European researchers among 2019 Nobel Prize laureates

Last week the Nobel Foundation awarded the prestigious Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, Literature and Peace. In addition, the 2019 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel was announced on Monday 14 October 2019. European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation has congratulated all 2019 Nobel Prize laureates, saying that they "have pushed the frontiers of knowledge and their discoveries help us tackle challenges facing humanity, such as the need for clean energy and for new life-saving treatments. It makes me proud to see that EU research and innovation funding has supported some of them in their work". The European Commission has provided a list of those 2019 Nobel Prize Winners who have received EU funding in the course of their careers:

  • the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine went jointly to William G. Kaelin Jr (USA), Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe (UK) and Gregg L. Semenza (USA) for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability, paving the way for new ways to fight anaemia, cancer and other diseases. One of the three winners, Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe, participated in the EU-funded EUROXY project, which targeted oxygen-sensing cascades for novel cancer treatments (2004 - 2009). The project had received €8 million from the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme. In addition, Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe together with Christopher J. Schofield (UK) jointly received an ERC Advanced Grant in 2008 to study proteins involved in oxygen sensing in cells.
  • the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded jointly to James Peebles (USA) for theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology, and to Michael Mayor (CH) and Didier Queloz (CH) for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star. Both Professors Mayor and Queloz were in the past involved in OPTICON (Optical Infrared Coordination Network), an infrastructure supported by the EU since FP5 and until Horizon 2020, with a total of €38.7 million in EU funding. Their discovery of the exoplanet 51 Pegasi b was actually made with one of the telescopes that later became part of the OPTICON network (at the Observatoire de Haute-Provence, 193 cm).
  • the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to John B. Goodenough (USA), M. Stanley Whittingham (UK) and Akira Yoshino (JP) for the development of lithium-ion batteries. Professor Whittingham from Binghamton University was one of the co-authors of a scientific paper linked to the EU-funded ALION projects (Nanotechnology for environmentally sustainable electromobility).
  • the 2019 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences was awarded to French scientist Esther Duflo, together with Abhijit Banerjee (USA) and Michael Kremer (USA). They received the prize for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.

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