nobel_prize (2)



Figure 1. Schematic illustration of the Hepatitis C virus. Top right: the virus particle containing an RNA genome and the viral envelope glycoproteins E1 and E2 exposed on the surface. Bottom: the viral genome encoding a large polyprotein that is cleaved into multiple structural and non-structural proteins with 5’ and 3’ terminal untranslated regions.

Topics: Medicine, Nobel Laureates, Nobel Prize

The discovery of Hepatitis C virus
The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton, and Charles M. Rice for the discovery of Hepatitis C virus. Hepatitis, from the Greek names for liver and inflammation, is a disease characterized by poor appetite, vomiting, fatigue, and jaundice – yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes. Chronic hepatitis leads to liver damage, which may progress to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Viral infection is the leading cause of hepatitis, with some forms persisting without symptoms for many years before life-threatening complications develop. Until the 1960s, exposure to blood from infected individuals was a major health hazard, with up to 30% risk of chronic hepatitis following surgery or multiple blood transfusions. This risk was only partially reduced by the discovery of the Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and the eventual elimination of HBV-contaminated blood through testing. A more insidious form of hepatitis, characterized by very mild symptoms in the acute phase and a high risk of progression to chronic liver damage and cancer, remained. The work of Alter, Houghton, and Rice characterized this form of hepatitis to be a distinct clinical entity, caused by an RNA virus of the Flavivirus family, now known as Hepatitis C virus (HCV). This pioneering work has paved the way for the development of screening methods that have dramatically reduced the risk of acquiring hepatitis from contaminated blood and has led to the development of effective antiviral drugs that have improved the lives of millions of people.

Advanced information. Nobel Media AB 2020. Mon. 5 Oct 2020. <>

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In Finnegan's Wake...

Murray Gell-Mann won the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physics.Credit: Santa Fe Institute


Topics: Nobel Laureate, Nobel Prize, Particle Physics, Quarks, Standard Model, Theoretical Physics

The Nobel Prize in Physics 1969 was awarded to Murray Gell-Mann "for his contributions and discoveries concerning the classification of elementary particles and their interactions."

The Nobel Prize in Physics 1969. Nobel Media AB 2019. Wed. 29 May 2019. < >

Murray Gell-Mann, one of the founders of modern particle physics, died on 24 May, aged 89. Gell-Mann’s most influential contribution was to propose the theory of quarks — fundamental particles that make up most ordinary matter.

To bring order to a plethora of recently discovered subatomic particles, in 1961 Gell-Mann proposed a set of rules based on symmetries in the fundamental forces of nature. The rules classified subatomic particles called hadrons into eight groups, a scheme he named the eightfold way in a reference to Buddhist philosophy.

In 1964, he realized that such rules would naturally arise if the particles were composed of two, three or more fundamental particles, held together by the strong nuclear force. (US–Russian physicist George Zweig came to the same conclusion independently in the same year.) Protons and neutrons, for example, would be made up of three of these more fundamental particles, which Gell-Man named quarks, inspired by a quote — “Three quarks for Muster Mark!” — from James Joyce’s 1939 novel Finnegan's Wake. [1]

Quarks and Leptons are the building blocks which build up matter, i.e., they are seen as the "elementary particles". In the present standard model, there are six "flavors" of quarks. They can successfully account for all known mesons and baryons (over 200). The most familiar baryons are the proton and neutron, which are each constructed from up and down quarks. Quarks are observed to occur only in combinations of two quarks (mesons), three quarks (baryons). There was a recent claim of observation of particles with five quarks (pentaquark), but further experimentation has not borne it out. [2]


1. Murray Gell-Mann, father of quarks, dies - US physicist was one of the chief architects of the standard model of particle physics. Davide Castelvecchi, Nature
2. Hyperphysics: Quarks

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