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2010 Nobel Prize Predictions, Stem Cell Researchers are Considered

Three (3) researchers have been chosen for consideration of the Nobel Prize for Physiology and/or Medicine.

  • They are Douglas Coleman of Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine and Jeffrey Friedman of Rockefeller University in New York, for their work discovering leptin, a hormone linked to appetite and obesity. Friedman and Coleman won a Lasker award, widely considered to help predict Nobel winners;
  • Ernest McCulloch and James Till of the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto, who first discovered stem cells in bone marrow in the early 1960s and Shinya Yamanaka of Japan’s Kyoto University and the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease in San Francisco, who discovered in 2006 how to make induced pluripotent stem cells or iPS cells from ordinary skin cells;
  • Another possible contender is Ralph Steinman of Rockefeller University in New York, who helped discover the role of dendritic cells, immune cells found in the skin, intestines and nose that are the first line of defense against some microbes. Stimulating dendritic cells helps makes some vaccines work.

The Chemistry Prize favors Patrick Brown of Stanford University School of Medicine in California, who invented DNA microarrays, also known widely as gene chips, which are broadly used by scientists now to see which genes are active in various cells. Brown’s microarray idea resembled inkjet printers.

  • Also named was Stephen Lippard of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who found a way to make platinum disrupt DNA, the basis of a family of cancer drugs that use the metal.

In 2009, David Pendlebury (Thomson/Reuters) correctly predicted that Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider and Jack Szostak would share the Nobel Prize for Medicine for discovering telomerase, an enzyme involved in aging. He considers previous years’ picks to also still be in the running. (HWM and David Pendlebury, Reuters)