September 22, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Did Nobel folks get it right & no one deserved 3rd stem cell slot with Yamanaka & Gurdon?

The great news of Yamanaka and Gurdon getting the Nobel Prize for cellular reprogramming is still resonating in the stem cell field. My heartfelt congratulations to two amazing biologists!

Also still ringing in my ears from so many people contacting me about what is becoming a somewhat infamous “empty” third slot that the Nobel Committee could have filled with a third deserving stem cell/cell reprogramming researcher, but chose not to for some unknown reason.

I’m doing a poll on who would have deserved that slot and it is drawing a ton of votes. Vote away!

The top two vote getters so far are Ian Wilmut of the sheep clone Dolly fame and Jamie Thomson of human ES cell (and a bit on human iPS cell) fame.

However, several people have suggested my poll is missing an important choice in the form of basically “no one”. In other words, the Nobel Committee got it right to only give this to two people. I should have included that option!

Really no one is deserving of that third slot? Really?

What do you think?

In the category of “what could have been”, I believe that if Hal Weintraub was alive (he passed away from cancer in the 1990s) that he would have nicely filled that third slot as a true visionary researcher on cell fate definitely in the same plane as Yamanaka and Gurdon. Weintraub’s seminal work on MyoD and cell fate really established the foundation for what Yamanaka did later.

This also got me thinking, who inspired Yamanaka and Gurdon?