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Zuska never fails to make people think. And she made me wonder this and made me think that perhaps we could pass some names along to future Noble committees – you know, just in case they’re having trouble coming up with names of female scientists. Maybe we can be some help.

I have a few suggestions below but I would really like to see more suggestions in the comments.

My suggestions for female Nobelists are:

1. Mary-Claire King
She could fit in two categories – The first category would be medicine for her discovery that a common disease, i.e. breast cancer, should have a genetic cause and of course for finding the BRCA1 gene. The second category would be the Nobel peace prize for her work in reuniting families. King’s work is an important example of using science to advance a humanitarian cause. Her work with genetics helped return many kidnapped children to their grandparents and overturn a sad legacy.

2. Elizabeth Blackburn
Medicine or chemistry – for her work on telomerase

3. Nancy Wexler
Medicine or chemistry – for her work on Huntingtin.

4. Brenda Bass
Medicine or chemistry – for her work on RNA biology. As I recall, she published one of the first papers 1987, that laid the basis for RNAi technology.

References:
1. Bass BL, Weintraub H. A developmentally regulated activity that unwinds RNA duplexes.
Cell. 1987 Feb 27;48(4):607-13.

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Comments

  1. #1 Rob Knop
    October 5, 2006

    For a Physics Nobel Prize, which seems to include astronomy nowadays, I would point at Vera Rubin, for proof of the existence of dark matter in galaxies.

    -Rob

  2. #2 HI
    October 5, 2006

    1. Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol Greider for telomerase
    2. Pamela Bjorkman for MHC structure
    3. Vera Rubin for dark matter
    4. Philippa Marrack for T cell receptor
    5. Margaret Geller for the large-scale structure of the universe
    6. Cynthia Kenyon for aging research

    I think Blackburn and Greider are very likely to get it.

    I think that if the Nobel prize is awarded for a tumor suppressor gene, it will be for Rb (and perhaps p53) and not for BRCA1. And there is not an easy answer for who should get for discovering Rb.

  3. #3 Sandra Porter
    October 6, 2006

    Those are great suggestions! We should probably include Ursual Storb, too, for her pioneering work with transgenic mice.

  4. #4 Jim Hu
    October 7, 2006

    Blackburn would be a good choice, but while Greider is an excellent scientist the historical pattern would not favor her sharing it, IMHO.

    Ada Yonath could get a share if there’s a prize for the ribosome

    Gail Martin for ES cell work

    If there’s another one for splicing, Joan Steitz for U RNAs

  5. #5 HI
    October 7, 2006

    Jim Hu,

    Regarding Greider. You are right that, historically, a work done as a student or a postdoc tends not to count. But Linda Buck won for her discovery as a postdoc. Also, Russell Hulse shared a physics prize with his Ph.D adviser. Blackburn and Greider have shared many prizes already. It’s not like their papers had other authors on them. Why not? I think Greider deserves it. On the other hand, there is a little bit of wishful thinking by me in the case of Bjorkman. Her adviser died and she might get a credit. But there has already been a prize for MHC, so there may not be another one. But my immunology professor told me that seeing that MHC structure with the antigen peptide was a real eureka moment.

    Regarding the ribosome work. Ada Yonath’s name is often mentioned. My impression is that she may have crystalized it first, but priority of actually solving the structure is not hers. She also seems to be a controversial figure. See some comments here.

    Gail Martin might be a possibility, but I don’t know enough about the history of ES cells. Joan Steitz is good, but do you think there will be another Nobel for splicing?

  6. #6 hip hip array
    September 22, 2007

    Don’t forget that Mike Rebagliati, with Doug Melton, published on the rna unwinding activity at the same time as Bass and Weintraub, and that a Japanese woman was right in there as well.

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