Germany’s Harald zur Hausen and French researchers Francoise Barre-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in medicine today for discovering the Aids virus and the role of viruses in cervical cancer.
Ms Barre-Sinoussi and Mr Montagnier were cited for their discovery of human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV; Mr zur Hausen was cited for finding human papilloma viruses that cause cervical cancer, the second most common cancer among women.
The German scientist received half of the 10 million kronor (€1m) prize, while the two French researchers shared the other half.
Alfred Nobel, the Swede who invented dynamite, established the prizes in his will in the categories of medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and peace. The economics prize is technically not a Nobel but a 1968 creation of Sweden’s central bank.
The awards include the money, a diploma and an invitation to the prize ceremonies in Stockholm and Oslo on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel’s death in 1896.
Nobel left few instructions on how to select winners, but medicine winners are typically awarded for a specific breakthrough rather than a body of research.
Last year’s medicine award went to US researchers Mario Capecchi and Oliver Smithies and Briton Martin Evans for work that led to a powerful and widely used technique to manipulate genes in mice, which has helped scientists study heart disease, diabetes, cancer, cystic fibrosis and other diseases.