The Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institutet has decided to award the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch. The motivation is that “[t]heir discoveries have unlocked one of the secrets of nature by explaining the molecular basis for sensing heat, cold and mechanical force, which is fundamental for our ability to feel, interpret and interact with our internal and external environment.”
These are breakthrough discoveries. Our ability to sense temperature and touch is essential for survival and thanks to this year`s laureates we now better understand how our nervous system captures and handles information from our surroundings.
One of the laureates, Ardem Patapoutian, personifies the importance of keeping open borders for academics and scholars in a geopolitically turbulent world – a topical issue in the national debate these days. Patapoutian was born in Beirut 1967 and fled from Lebanon during the war. He was able to get a safe harbor in USA and could thus embark on a brilliant research career that has now led all the way to a Nobel Prize.
My heartfelt congratulations to the two laureates on their remarkable achievements!