Local predictions for the Nobel Prizes

As many of the news stories say, today marks the beginning of the so-called “Nobel Season”, with the announcement of the 2011 Medicine Prize in a few hours time. Which means its time to start seeing who the smart money is on in Sweden.

I’ll leave the Literature and Peace predictions for later on this week, but top of the list for science prize predictors is Karin Bojs, science editor for the Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter. Bojs’s forecasts are frequently and unnervingly on the mark, and you can see her full list of predictions for the Medicine, Physics and Chemistry Prizes here. Bojs presents a lengthy and persuasive case for today’s Medicine Prize to be shared by Japanese researcher Shinya Yamanaka for his work with induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells for short, British scientist John Gurdon for being the first scientist to clone an animal, and Canadian biophysicist James Till for discovering of blood stem cells.

What sets Bojs’s prediction apart from most press speculation is that she tries to think in the same way that the committee would. In this case, she argues that not only would sharing the prize in this way provide a balance of basic research breakthroughs with clinical applications, but also that Till’s long time collaborator, Ernest McCullogh, died earlier this year, so there wouldn’t the issue of having more than the maximum three possible Laureates for an individual prize.

There appears to be no repeat of last year’s extraordinary events, in which the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet ran a front-page splash before the announcement declaring correctly that the recipient would be British test-tube baby pioneer Robert Edwards, and confidential documents were stolen from a committee member’s car. As the Associated Press reports, the Medicine Prize committee has applied even stricter rules on keeping their discussions and documents surrounding potential candidates secret. But it won’t be long before we find out who’s name is on their list for this year.


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