2022 Nobel Prize Predictions – The Science of the Francis Mule

Like every year on these dates I have to predict who will be awarded a Nobel Prize in Science. The Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology will be announced on Monday, October 3, at around 11:30 CEST, that of Physics on Tuesday, October 4, at around 11:45, and that of Chemistry on Wednesday, October 5, around 11:45. Like every year there are hundreds of researchers who deserve each of these awards and have not yet received it; and every year new candidates are added. Like every year, knowing that I am going to fail, I allow myself to make a prediction (based on those that have been published in different media or sources).

Every year David Pendlebury of the company clarify uses its selection algorithm based on citations to articles in the Web of Science to add new candidates to the Hall of Citation Laureates; the list grows little by little each year and 64 winners appear in it. Obviously, the candidates from previous years are still strong candidates for the award (if they have not yet received it), especially since they accumulate nominations for their candidacies. There are many other sources, such as Rebecca Krahenbuhl, “Clarivate Reveals Citation Laureates 2022 – Annual List of Researchers of Nobel Class,” Clarivate, 21 Sep 2022; Megan Molteni, «Who will get the call from Stockholm? It’s time for STAT’s 2022 Nobel Prize predictions,” STAT, Sep 30, 2022; “Who’s Next? Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2022 – Voting Results September 16,” Chemistry Views, 16 Sep 2022; among many other sources.

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Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology (October 03, 2022)

As I mentioned last year, my strongest candidates for this year’s award are the fathers of the modified messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, Katalin Kariko (67 years old)BioNTech (Germany) and Drew Weissman (63 years old), Univ. Pennsylvania (USA); They have already received all the awards that have been and will be (including the 2021 Princess of Asturias Award and the 2022 Breakthrough in Life Sciences). The sheer number of lives saved by Pfizer/BioNTech and ModeRNA’s COVID-19 vaccines is unmistakable. Could you share the award with a third person? The Frontiers of Knowledge award from the BBVA Foundation was shared with Robert Langer (74 years old), MIT (USA), father of messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, key in the development of mRNA therapies beyond vaccines; without a doubt this trio will receive the Nobel Prize one year and there is no better year than 2022. Unfortunately, the other fathers of the COVID-19 vaccines, such as Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci, Sarah Gilbert, Philip Felgner or Derrick Rossi , among other people, in my opinion, will be left without an award. Furthermore, I must confess that I cannot conceive of a Nobel Prize only for the three mothers of vaccines, Karikó, Türeci and Gilbert, who obviously deserve it, but that I would leave out people who also deserve it.

David Pendlebury of Clarivate has this year added four candidates to his list of potential winners of the Nobel. On the one hand, neuroscientists Masato Hasegawafrom the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science (Japan), and Virginia Man-Yee Leefrom the Univ. Pennsylvania (USA) for the discovery that the accumulation of the protein TDP-43 (TAR DNA binding protein 43 kD) phosphorylated is a biomarker of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD), and for its other contributions in the study of neurodegenerative diseases. I think they have forgotten Tetsuaki Araifrom Univ. Tsukuba, Japan, who collaborated in Hasegawa’s pioneering work and could share the award.

In addition, he has added Mary-Claire King, from the Univ. Washington, Seattle (USA), discoverer of the role of the BRCA1 gene mutation in susceptibility to breast and ovarian cancer. I think that in her case the discoverers of the BRCA2 gene would also be awarded, Michael Stratton Y Richard Wooster, both from the Institute of Cancer Research (UK). Both genes were the first two patented genes.

Finally, he proposes Stuart H. Orkin, from Harvard Medical School (USA), for his basic research on the genetic bases of blood diseases and for his advances in gene therapy for sickle cell anemia and beta-thalassemia. In his case, I think his collaborator would also be awarded George Demetrifrom Harvard Medical School (USA), for his contributions to epigenetic therapies against tumors, especially those that lack the SMARCB1 gene.

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Nobel Prize in Physics (04 October 2022)

Since it is impossible for Sheperd Doeleman (55 years old) to receive the award for the images of the shadow of supermassive black holes with the EHT (Event Horizon Telescope), this year I opt again for the eternal candidates, the fathers of quantum information Alain Aspect (75 years old)Univ. Paris-Saclay, France, John F. Clauser (79 years old)Univ. California Berkeley, USA, and Anton Zeilinger (77 years old), Univ. Vienna, Austria; all of them have contributed to transforming quantum entanglement into a basic tool for developing new technologies, such as quantum computers, quantum encryption systems and quantum information processors. As these pioneers age, their chances of receiving the accolade they have earned for more than three decades have increased.

David Pendlebury of Clarivate has added four candidates this year, Immanuel Bloch (49 years old), of the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics and the Univ. Ludwig-Maximilians in Munich, Germany, for his work on multibody quantum systems using ultracold atomic and molecular gases to perform quantum simulations of “artificial solids”. In his case, he should be accompanied by the pioneers, the Spanish Juan Ignacio Cirac (56 years old)of the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, and of Peter Zoller (70 years old), Univ. Innsbruck (Austria), who were the pioneers in this area. Obviously, all of us Spaniards would be very happy, but I must confess that in my humble opinion we will still have to wait a few years for these three to receive the award.

Also included in the list of laureates is the controversial Stephen R. Quake (age 53), Univ. Stanford (USA), for his contributions in nanofluids, that is, the physics of fluids at the nanoliter scale; Quake is controversial for having advised the Chinese He Jiankui on his crazy “CRISPR babies” project, which, if he receives the award, would place him in the category of controversial nobels such as Kary Mullis (PCR) and James Watson (DNA). ). In his case, I think he should be accompanied by the pioneering father of microfluidics George M. Whitesides (83 years old)Univ. Harvard (USA), which is on the Clarivate list for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Finally added to the list Takashi Taniguchi Y Kenji Watanabeboth from the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) in Tsukuba (Japan), for the development of techniques for manufacturing high-quality two-dimensional crystals of hexagonal boron nitride (hBN), which together with graphene (Nobel Prize in Physics 2010) are the great protagonists of the technological revolution of two-dimensional materials.

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Nobel Prize in Chemistry (October 05, 2022)

Many voices claim a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for John Jumper, father of the revolutionary software AlphaFold, from the company DeepMind, owned by Alphabet (Google). However, I think it is still too early for him to have amassed a sufficient number of nominations. In my opinion, this year someone related to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus will be awarded, even if it is indirectly, like the great Carolyn R. Bertozzi (age 54), Univ. Stanford, USA, mother of the study of glycans (sugars) that cover many proteins, such as the spike protein S of the coronavirus; Her work in synthetic biology and biotechnology has helped identify therapeutic targets for drugs and other applications in biomedicine. Chemistry is a field where many more women do research than in Physics and where it is to be hoped that there will be new awards for women; After the 2010 Nobel Prize for Charpentier and Doudna, a new award for Bertozzi would be a great step for the Swedish Academy to make visible the large number of women scientists who deserve the award.

There are so many eternal candidates for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry that it is impossible to select one. As I already highlighted in my “List of current scientific geniuses”, LCMF, Jul 29, 2019, I once again resort to the brilliant Omar M. Yaghi (57 years old), Univ. Berkeley (USA), for his contributions to chemical synthesis that have revolutionized the chemistry of new materials and that place him among the most cited chemists of this century. Since I am biased towards biochemical technologies, I would also like to single out Patrick O’Reilly Brown (68 years old)Univ. Stanford (USA) the inventor of DNA microarrays (arrays), a tool that is used regularly in all biochemistry laboratories.

David Pendlebury of the company Clarivate has added this year, in addition to Bertozzi, three other candidates: Daniel G. Nocera (65 years old)from Harvard University (USA), for his research on the proton-coupled electron transfer (PCET) process that powers cells, which has multiple applications in Biology and Energy Engineering; Zhenan Bao (52 years old), from Stanford University (USA), for a topic that is very fashionable, the development of new biomimetic applications, based on organic and polymeric electronic materials, which behave like a flexible “electronic skin”; in my opinion it is still too early for this theme to receive an award; and the doctor Bonnie L. Bassler (52 years old)from Univ. Princeton (USA) and Dr. E. Peter Greenberg (74 years old)from the Univ. Washington in Seattle (USA), for his work on chemical communication between bacteria and the so-called quorum sensing, and the mechanisms involved in regulating gene expression in bacteria.

Will I get any of my predictions right? Who knows!

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2022 Nobel Prize Predictions – The Science of the Francis Mule