Thomas Perlmann (right), the Secretary of the Nobel Committee, stands next to a screen displaying the winners of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine David Julius (left) and Ardem Patapoutian, during a press conference at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 4, 2021. (Photo by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images)
UPDATED 3:43 PM PT – Monday, October 4, 2021
Two Americans have won the Nobel Peace prize for a study showing how the human body reacts to heat and touch. Doctors David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian were awarded the prize in medicine on Monday.
They have been praised for their work in the field of somatosensation, which focuses on how specialized organs such as the eyes, ears and skin react to sounds, temperatures and other stimuli. Dr. Julius reportedly used the active ingredients from chili peppers to identify nerves which respond to heat.
In addition, Dr. Patapoutian found pressure sensitive cells, which respond to certain kinds of stimulation.
“I think it’s incredibly exciting. It concerns one of our senses and we all know, you know, how important it is to sense our surroundings for our survival,” expressed Secretary General Thomas Perlmann of the Nobel Committee. “This is a sense that, like the other ones, are absolutely crucial for us to survive. So we in the committee and assembly, we find this to be incredibly exciting.”
The doctors hoped their research would provide key insights into how doctors treated pain and other ailments.