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william campbell

Irish-born scientist given a Nobel Prize for his work fighting a horrible parasite

Irishman William Campbell shared one half of the prize with Satoshi Omura of Japan.

AN IRISH MAN has today won the Nobel Prize for medicine.

Irish-born William Campbell, Satoshi Omura of Japan and China’s Youyou Tu have won the prize for their discoveries of treatments against parasites, the jury said.

Campbell and Omura shared one-half of the prize for “their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites”, while Tu won the other half “for discoveries concerning a novel therapy against malaria.”

The medicine award kicks off a week of announcements where the most closely-watched award, the Nobel Peace Prize, may well honour work to help refugees to a better life.

Sweden’s newspaper of reference, Dagens Nyheter (DN), said yesterday it believed the prize committees would this year be looking to even out the gender gap among laureates, the vast majority of whom have been men over the years.

“This year the Nobel committees in the science disciplines are headed by women. There are also an unusual number of women’s names circulating in the speculation,” DN wrote.

Guessing who will win the prizes is usually an exercise in futility, but nonetheless speculation runs rife every year just before the big announcements.

twitter The Nobel Prize / Twitter The Nobel Prize / Twitter / Twitter

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The Nobel prizes were created by Swedish philanthropist and scientist Alfred Nobel in his 1895 will, and were first handed out in 1901.

The physics prize will be announced tomorrow.

DN have predicted a woman laureate in that discipline, suggesting US researcher Deborah Jin for her work on ultracold gases. Swedish Radio meanwhile tipped US astronomist Vera Rubin for her pioneering work on galaxy rotation rates.

For the chemistry prize, to be announced on Wednesday, Swedish Radio suggested it could go to US electrochemist John Goodenough, whose research led to rechargeable batteries, or to organic chemist Per Siegbahn of Sweden.

Merkel peace prize?

For the literature prize, the exact date of the announcement is only revealed a few days in advance but it is traditionally announced on a Thursday, so it will likely fall on 8 October.

Last year, the award went to French author Patrick Modiano, and the year before that to Canadian short story writer Alice Munro.

Some of the names circulating this year include Belarussian author Svetlana Alexievich, US novelist Joyce Carol Oates, Japanese author Haruki Murakami, and Nuruddin Farah of Somalia.

On Friday, all eyes and ears will turn to Oslo for the Nobel Peace Prize announcement.

The committee may let itself be influenced by current events and give the nod to a person or organisation working to ease the suffering of those escaping war and authoritarian regimes.

“There is really a strong likelihood that it will go to someone helping people fleeing,” Anna Ek, the head of the Swedish pacifist organisation Svenska Freds, told news agency TT.

Here again, another woman has been tipped as the frontrunner: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for opening her country to asylum seekers in Europe’s recent migrant crisis.

Others mentioned in the same breath include Eritrean Catholic priest Mussie Zerai, who has helped thousands of refugees cross the Mediterranean, as well as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the mayor of the Italian island of Lampedusa, Giusi Nicolini.

Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege, who has treated thousands of women brutalised by rape in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, has also been mentioned as a possibility, as has Japan’s pacifist Article 9 Association which opposed changes to the country’s defence laws.

The 2015 Nobel season winds up on 12 October with the announcement of the winners of the economics prize.

Only one woman has won the award since it was first handed out in 1969, when it was created by the Swedish Central Bank to celebrate its tricentenary.

If the committee were looking to improve those stats, it could select Americans Claudia Goldin, who has researched inequality, and Anne Krueger, a specialist in free trade and development.

This year’s Nobel laureates will receive eight million Swedish kronor (around $950,000 or €855,000) per award, to be shared if there are several winners in one discipline.

© – AFP, 2015

Read: Watch Richard Nixon get egged as he travelled through Dublin

Read: Check out Ireland’s swanky new passport card

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