2017 nobel prize predictions

September 20, 2017 at 10:14 am | | nobel

It’s approaching Nobel season again, and here are my predictions:

Chemistry: CRISPR (Doudna, Charpentier, Zhang) [awarded in 2020]

Medicine: Unfolded protein response (Walter, Mori)

Physics: Gravitational waves (Kip Thorne, Rainer Weiss, Ronald Drever, or maybe Barry Barish and the entire LIGO collaboration)

Last year, I think the detection gravitational waves happened a little too late to actually be selected for 2016. But now it’s a year later! Unfortunately, Ronald Drever passed away in the meantime.

In years past, I think CRISPR’s potential had not been actualized enough to win, but by this time it’s obvious that the technology works and is already impacting science. Lithium batteries have changed the world, and John Goodenough deserves the prize. But he recently announced a new battery technology that some scientists are skeptical will work. Maybe that’s too much controversy for the Nobel committee?

I considered optogenetics (Deisseroth, Zemelman, Miesenböck, Isacoff), but I didn’t want to predict both that and CRISPR in one year. Since Peter Walter and Kazutoshi Mori won a Lasker prize a few years ago now, I think it’s their time.


My past predictions

Clarivate (formerly Thompson) Citation Laureates

C&E News webinar


Stat News

As always, excellent prediction and discussion at Curious Wavefunction


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  1. I have to say that Prof.Ronald Dreve has passed away this year…

    Comment by Kagayaki — September 20, 2017 #

  2. Oh, I missed that. Sorry to hear that.

    Comment by sam — September 21, 2017 #

  3. I think that The Nobel Prize in Physics for garvitational waves shuld got prof. Andrzej Trautman from University of Warsaw, Poland.

    Comment by Martin — September 21, 2017 #

  4. Prof Andrzej Trautman first with Ivor Robinaon (King’s College London) to proved that gravitational waves are real phenomena and we can to measure this waves. Andrzej Trautman are 84 years old.

    Comment by Martin — September 21, 2017 #

  5. And I think that The Nobel Prize for CRIPSR-cas9 will be awarded in Phyeiology or Medicine (No chemistry): Philippe Horvath, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna.

    Comment by Martin — September 22, 2017 #

  6. For CRISPR, there is a heavy pack of pretenders. Maybe they could give the Physiology prize to Mojica, Horvath and Barrangou for the discovery and demonstration of the CRISPR immunity, and the Chemistry prize to Doudna, Charpentier, Zhang (Church) for harnessing it in genome editing.

    Comment by Me — September 24, 2017 #

  7. Nobel Prize in chemistry ? Maybe Sir E. Southern for southern-blotting (1/2) and Charpentier and Doudna for CRIPSR-cas 9 (1/2) ?

    Comment by Martin — September 25, 2017 #

  8. I will make a long-shot prediction for the chemistry prize–long-shot because 1. no one seems to be predicting this guy except me, and 2. his work is a bit on the applications side for the Nobel; the committee seems to prefer fundamental discoveries over new methods and strategies for solving problems.

    The prediction is Peter G. Schultz, for doing TWO things:

    1. Pioneering the strategy of screening molecular libraries–creating a large community of different molecules in the same test-tube (or on the same solid surface) plus a strategy for fishing out and identifying the ones which do what you want, AND

    2. Using this strategy to expand the genetic codes (protein-vocabularies) of many unicellular organisms, to include unnatural amino acids (nonsense/stop codons code for the unnatural amino acids), enabling protein chemists to probe, or change, protein function by programming the cell to incorporate a lab-synthesized amino acid, whose side chain includes an unnatural moiety, into any chosen site of any protein of interest. If you use an unnatural amino acid whose side-chain contains an environment-sensitive probe, you can obtain info about the site where you direct the amino acid to, and if you use an unnatural amino acid whose side-chain does something, you can change the protein’s activity–for instance, you can start with a protein which binds a certain sequence of DNA, and make a new protein which CUTS that sequence. Or, you can incorporate bio-orthogonal moieties into two proteins and link them together in a very specific way. Lots of applications for basic protein-chemistry and for applications! The best way to make, for instance, antibodies with two different binding sites.

    Comment by Ted — September 26, 2017 #

  9. I feel that in this year The Nobel Prize in Chemistry will be awarded for FOLDING PROTEINS and CHAPERONES : Hartl and Hurwich, maybe Ellis. I give 90% for this option.

    Comment by Martin — September 26, 2017 #

  10. The microbiologists deserve credit for the Crispr discovery. The Nobel is for an initial discovery, and not so much for tweaking a system to make it applicable. The Nobel is not intended to award shameless self promotion either.

    Comment by Joe M — September 28, 2017 #

  11. I still think cell adhesion has a good chance.
    R. Hynes, E. Ruoslahti for integrins and M. Takeichi for cadherins.

    Comment by Joe M — September 28, 2017 #

  12. Ronald Drever’s death, while a tragedy for those who knew and worked with him, brought peace to a man who went from the pinnacle of experimental physics to the depths of dementia. The “third” seat should be given to the 1000+ members of the LSC who have worked for an (estimated) 10,000 man years to make LIGO a success.

    Comment by Gabbar Singh — September 29, 2017 #

  13. Joe M, I agree with your points.

    Comment by sam — October 2, 2017 #

  14. Congrats on the correct Physics call.

    Comment by Dyche — October 3, 2017 #

  15. Another year of “the dude” not winning is a good year for discovery-based research and a rejection of those who shamelessly claim what’s not their original discovery.

    Comment by Joe M — October 6, 2017 #

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