Nobel Prize Lecture Series

 

The Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology in the year 2018 was awarded to Dr. James P. Allison and Dr. Tasuku Honjo.

Dr. Tasuku Honjo (center left), Dr. James P. Allison (center right)

One of the best things about living in Stockholm is that you can experience the Nobel week celebrations in person. Every year the Nobel prize is given to the selected Nobel Laureates on 10th of December in a grand ceremony.

The celebration of the Nobel week is filled with events like talks from the laureates, to a session where one can meet laureates in person. This year’s Nobel prize were given in the field of Medicine or Physiology, Chemistry, Physics and Economics. Literature Prize was cancelled due to some issues.

 

As a person with interest in basic sciences I always wanted to attend the Nobel lectures in Stockholm, live. And coming from a biology background, I was extremely excited to attend the Physiology lecture since the day I decided to come to Stockholm to study.

 

Let me tell you something about the Physiology prize.

The Physiology Laureate is selected by the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute. The press release of the same was done on 1st October at the Nobel Forum in the Solna campus of KI. Finally, on 7th of December, I got an opportunity to attend the Nobel Lecture, that I had always dreamt of.

The lecture was scheduled for 1:00 pm at Aula Medica on Solna campus at KI. The entry was to open at 12:45 pm, however, as this is an public event, a group of friends and I reached there 2 hours before to make sure we secure a spot in the auditorium. It was a memorable experience to wait in the cold weather of 20C for 2 hours. The doors opened at the said time and we got good center seats in the auditorium. I was unable to contain my excitement.

The first lecture was by Dr. James P. Allison, where he gave a formal talk and focused on the CTLA-4 co-stimulatory effects, giving some insights on the success in the treatment of the cancer patients by showing clinical data.

 

The slide from lecture showing improved cancer survival

The second lecture was titled as the Serendipities of acquired immunity. Dr. Tasuku Honjo, of Kyoto University introduced the whole topic as a story. He started right from the basics of the immune system and built on that to explain his contribution in the field and how that can be used for cancer treatments. He also used a beautiful analogy of a car and the aspect of accelerator and break that is used to drive it. The analogy can be seen in the image below, that he used to explain during the talk. The clever and simple analogy really help give a clear understanding to the audience, even to those new to the field.

Analogy of car for the immune system

Finally, on the way out everyone was given a Nobel chocolate and a poster describing the concept of the discovery.  I was extremely happy. It seemed like an entire day when we came out. As the sun sets really early in winter, when we came out it was already dark, which made us feel like we were in there the whole day. This and the long wait made me feel exhausted, but it was really worth the wait. I lived the day I had dreamt of for so long.