Three scientists from Ireland, Japan, and China won the Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday for discoveries that helped doctors fight malaria and infections caused by roundworm parasites. The Nobel judges in Stockholm awarded the prestigious prize to Irish-born William Campbell, Satoshi Omura of Japan, and Tu Youyou—the first ever Chinese medicine laureate. Campbell and Omura were cited for discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites, while Tu was rewarded for discoveries concerning a novel therapy against malaria. "The two discoveries have provided humankind with powerful new means to combat these debilitating diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people annually," the committee said. "The consequences in terms of improved human health and reduced suffering are immeasurable."
Nobel Prize committee member Hans Forssberg says Tu's discovery has "markedly reduced the death toll during the last decade" from malaria, while the discoveries by Campbell and Omura have contributed to dramatically reducing the number of individuals affected each year from "the stigmatizing and disabling symptoms" of river blindness and elphentiasis. Forssberg says the discoveries represent a paradigm shift in medicine that also has a positive effect on society as a whole. The medicine award was the first Nobel announced. The winners of the physics, chemistry, and peace prizes are set to be announced later this week. The economics prize will be announced next Monday. No date has been set yet for the literature prize, but it is expected to be announced on Thursday. (Read more Nobel Prize for Medicine stories.)