Local Professer And Two Women Win Nobel Prize


By Dylan Bushe

On October 5th 2009, Americans Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider and Jack Szostak were named winners of the 2009 Nobel Prize in medicine for their research on cancer and aging cells.This sucessful trio of scientists carried out many complex experiments on the cells of the body to try to figure out how chromosomes protect themselves from degrading when cells divide. Their project started with just yeast and an organism found in pond scum, but almost three decades later, they have finally discovered the implications that their work has on cancer and aging  cells research. These Nobel winners found the solution in the ends of the chromosomes — features called telomeres that are often compared to the plastic tips at the end of shoe laces that keep the laces from unraveling.

At a press confrence on October 5th, Szostak stated that, “What started off as work on a really basic question has turned out, to our pleasant surprise, to have much broader implications.” Furthur in his speech, Szostak regards his winning of the Nobel Prize as, “… the highest scientific honor,” and that, “It’s great to receive that kind of recognition.’’

For Blauckburn and Greider, this victory is more than just a proud moment. Since 1901, only a total of ten women have won this prestegious award in medicine. This year, however, both women had the time, effort, and commitment to win. Nobel judges claim that, because the Nobel Prize hasn’t been around that long,  women are “underrepresented because most Nobel Prizes were handed out during times when science was dominated by men.”  Still, critics of the committee claim that that the Nobel judges do not put in the extra effort to find strong women candidates.” We don’t give Nobel Prizes because of gender,” prize committee member, Goran Hansson, told The Associated Press. “We give it for scientific discoveries. As more women participate in research and make scientific discoveries, more women will win.”

This evidence of women’s inequality in Nobel Prizes is just the begining. Although these two women scientists are working to break the mold of Nobel winners, things haven’t really changed much from the days when the men dominated the field.  Women may still be currently underrated, but the question is: why? Is it because they are purposefully overlooked? Or because they have yet to accomplish or be credited for as much in the real world? Someday, women will be represented correctly, with regards to both statistics and respect, however, many women are wondering when exactly that time will come.