March 24, 2005

Clarification on the Nobel Prize Nomination

From the Nobel Prize website:
The Nominators Physiology or Medicine
Right to submit proposals for the award of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, based on the principle of competence and universality, shall by statute be enjoyed by:

  1. Members of the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm;
  2. Swedish and foreign members of the medical class of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences;
  3. Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine;
  4. Members of the Nobel Committee not qualified under paragraph 1 above;
  5. Holders of established posts as professors at the faculties of medicine in Sweden and holders of similar posts at the faculties of medicine or similar institutions in Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway;
  6. Holders of similar posts at no fewer than six other faculties of medicine selected by the Assembly, with a view to ensuring the appropriate distribution of the task among various countries and their seats of learning; and
  7. Practitioners of natural sciences whom the Assembly may otherwise see fit to approach.

Decisions concerning the selection of the persons appointed under paragraphs 6 and 7 above are taken before the end of May each year on the recommendation of the Nobel Committee.

Prize-Awarder: The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm
These people number about 3,000. From another link at the Nobel Prize Website
The process of selecting a winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine starts in September, about a year before the prize announcement. At this time, the prize-awarder in Stockholm (The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet) sends out invitations to about 3,000 people who are allowed to propose winners. These are mainly members of the Nobel Assembly, previous prize winners, and a selection of professors at universities around the world.

The nominations reach the Nobel Assembly between September and February. Many suggest the same person, and therefore the total number of recommended candidates is usually about 200 to 300.
Once again -- these 3,000 people suggest 200 to 300 people to the Swedish nomination committee, the nominees are selected by the Nomination Committee and their results are voted on by the Prize Committee. Sure, someone who was among the 3,000 could make an off-hand remark to someone that: "Hey, I submitted your name to the Nobel Selection Committee!" but this does not make that person a Nobel Prize Nominee. This is done by the Nomination Committee which is part of the Prize Process and is kept confidential for 50 years. I will say again:

If someone says that they are a Nobel Prize Nominee,
they are one of three things

  1. A Complete Liar
  2. Were told by one of the 3,000 Selectors and misinformed as to their nomination status (Selected not Nominated)
  3. A Nobel Prize Winner (by default, all Winners must be Nominees)
Finally, a point of ethics -- Jen and I were talking about this and we both feel the same way. Nobel Prizes are used to award people who have done something. Watson and Crick discovered the magic of DNA and then were awarded the prize. Surfer dude and biochemist Kary B. Mullis developed Polymerase Chain Reaction and was awarded a Nobel Prize for his efforts. (His book is a great fun read: Dancing Naked in the Mind Field) Most people claiming to be Prize Nominees are using this to build their careers, not to enjoy the warm glow after a successful one. To me and Jen, this speaks volumes... Posted by DaveH at March 24, 2005 7:22 PM