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News from Nobelprize.org

March 26, 2010

Many of us will, unfortunately, find ourselves needing to take drugs to treat our hypertension, heartburn or ulcers, and when we do might well be indebted to Sir James Black, the 1988 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine who died last Sunday.

Jim Black, as he was known to his friends, was one of that small minority of Nobel Laureates whose Nobel Prize-awarded work was conducted in an industrial setting. It was he who realized the therapeutic potential of pharmacological receptor blockade and he is credited with the remarkable achievement of developing not just one, but two immensely successful drugs: the first beta-blocker, propranolol, used to treat high blood pressure, and the first histamine H2-receptor antagonist, cimetidine, used to reduce stomach acid. Through these drugs and their successors, his work continues to deliver daily benefit to many millions of people around the world.

Starting with Jim Black, this edition of News from Nobelprize.org remembers the Nobel Laureates who have died over the past half year, and introduces highlights related to each one. Enjoy the memories.


Jim Black himself modestly maintained that his fame was a consequence not so much of his scientific discoveries, but was instead due to the lucky fact that the drugs he developed became blockbusters. Watch him explain those discoveries with marvellous clarity in this short interview, recorded in 2001.
Play the interview »

Marshall Nirenberg, who died in January, was one of the trio of 1968 Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine rewarded for deciphering the genetic code. In this 2005 interview, he remembers his very first experiment to test the theory that messenger RNA existed, and the fact that it worked!
Watch the interview »

Paul Samuelson, awarded the Prize in Economic Sciences in 1970 (only its second year of existence), died shortly before Christmas. He was an entertaining writer and describes, in the following short article, how he became an economist and thus found himself "overpaid to do what has been pure fun".
Read the article »

Vitaly Ginzburg, who had received the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on superconductors, died last November. His autobiography, in seven chapters, is startlingly frank, detailed and revealing, written that way because, he said "I am already 87 and will hardly ever have another occasion to write about myself and my views".
Read his extraordinary autobiography »

Norman Borlaug, the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate who died last September, spent his career trying to free people from the spectre of starvation by improving agricultural methods. In 2001, he opened his lecture at the centennial Nobel Symposium with the above quote from another Peace Prize Laureate, Lord Boyd Orr.
Watch his short lecture »

It might be surprising to learn that no less than seven children of Nobel Laureates have themselves been awarded Nobel Prizes. One of these children, Aage Bohr, died last September. He and his father Niels Bohr were both Physics Laureates, their Nobel Prizes coming 53 years apart. Follow the link below to discover more about related Nobel Laureates.
Browse more Nobel facts »