Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Who should get the Nobel Prize?

I thought I'd wrap up today's discussion with this provocative question, which I'll discuss in more detail in later posts.

My citation would be: For their analytical work leading to the discovery of artemisinin.

Based on the record of published scientific works, two Chinese scientists should get the prize. They are: Tu Youyou 屠呦呦 and Zhou Weishan 周維善.

But, as a Nobel can go to three people, I'd give the final third of the prize to Milutin Stefanovic. He may not have known the chemical could cure malaria, but he beat the Chinese to the printing press.

There's a precedent for this: Jerome Horwitz gets the credit for developing the anti-HIV drug AZT, even though he synthesized the chemical long before HIV came on the scene. Like Stefanovic, he could never have dreamed his chemical would later help millions of people.

Now let's pull these conclusions apart again and see where we get...


  1. Understanding Chinese is difficulty. If the said two for Nobel Prize, it would by=e biggest joke! Please read Zhang Jianfang's Book, you know!

    As per your views, why not Prof. Liang Xiaotian? His name is last one. He is highest respected.

    March 1982
    Tu Youyou 屠呦呦 is the first Chinese scientist to publish a qinghaosu article in a Western scientific journal.
    Tu You-you, Ni Mu-yun, Zhong Yu-rong, Li Lan-na, Cui Shu-lian, Zhang Mu-qun, Wang Xiu-zhen, Ji Zheng and Liang Xiao-tian. (1982) Studies on the constituents of Artemisia annua Part II*. Planta Medica 44:143-145.

  2. I agree anonymous, but this post does not represent my views. I'm conducting a serious historical investigation, which means looking at evidence and trying to understand what it means.

    The first stage is for me to understand the record of published scientific papers, see for example Lindahl's 1998 article in the journal Theoretical Medicine and Biology. It's about the use of citation data in understanding scientific history - in that case they studied the Gallo/Montagnier HIV controversy.

    Unfortunately, my Chinese is not so good I can just read Zhang Jianfang's book so easily. I'm slowly working through it with a dictionary, but it will take me years.

    My Chinese teacher uses complicated characters in her lessons, but Zhang's book uses simplified, that just adds to the difficulty.

    But at least my Chinese will improve...

    Perhaps we should collaborate to do an English translation?

  3. What do you think about Coartem? It was invented by Chinese, Prof. Zhou Yiqing and Prof. Ning Dianxi. It is clear! It was representative of two Chinese new medicine, Artemether and Lumefantrine. It is honor of Chinese Artemisinin. Considering the contribution for roll back malaria around world, Noble prize should focus on Chinese inventors. Thay are old now.