Nobel Prize for Medicine

By Nancy Steinbach

This is the VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT.

Three medical researchers have won the Nobel Prize for Medicine. They are Paul Greengard of Rockefeller University in New York City, Eric Kandel of Columbia University in New York and Arvid Carlsson of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. They will share the prize of more than nine-hundred-thousand dollars from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

Each man was honored for work that involved the way brain cells communicate. Chemicals carry messages between nerve cells in the brain at special places between the cells. These are called synapses. One of these chemical messengers is a substance called dopamine.

Arvid Carlsson was the first to discover that dopamine was the substance involved in this communication. His research led to the recognition that Parkinson's disease is caused by a lack of dopamine in parts of the brain.

It also led to the development of the substance L-dopa that is now used to treat the disease. His work also has helped doctors understand and treat brain disorders such as schizophrenia and depression. Doctor Carlsson was a professor at the University of Gothenburg for thirty years.

Paul Greengard heads the Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience at Rockefeller University. He discovered how dopamine and other chemicals in the brain act on the nervous system. This work has increased understanding of the action of several drugs on mental conditions like schizophrenia. Doctor Greengard said problems with dopamine levels also could cause learning problems like attention deficit disorder. He said he will give his Nobel Prize money to Rockefeller University for a yearly award to honor women in biomedical research.

Eric Kandel was born in Austria. He came to the United States with his family in Nineteen-Thirty-Nine to escape the Nazis. He established Columbia University's Center for Neurobiology and Behavior. Doctor Kandel discovered how synapses can be changed, and how those changes affect learning and memory. He also showed where memory is kept and lost in the brain. This may make it possible in the future to develop new drugs to treat diseases like Alzheimer's.

This VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT was written by Nancy Steinbach.

Voice of America Special English