Nobel season opens without 2018 Literature Prize


The announcement on Monday of the Nobel Medicine Prize opens this year’s amputated awards season, with no Literature Prize for the first time in 70 years because of a #MeToo scandal.

Like every year, Nobel aficionados have speculated wildly about possible winners, given the number of worthy candidates in the fields of medicine, physics, chemistry, peace and economics.

The medicine prize committee at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute is the first to reveal its choice of laureates, on Monday at 11.30 a.m. (3 p.m. IST).

But its announcement risks being at least partially eclipsed by a Stockholm court’s verdict around the same time against Frenchman Jean-Claude Arnault, charged with rape.

His close ties to the Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Literature Prize, have caused a scandal and deep rift in the Academy, prompting it to postpone this year’s prize for a year.

 It is the first time the prize has been postponed since William Faulkner’s 1949 honor was awarded in 1950. Without the Literature Prize this year, the most highly-anticipated award will be that for peace, announced on Friday in Oslo.

But before that come the science prizes, traditionally dominated by men working at U.S. institutions.

However, the medicine prize could go to two women for the gene-editing technique known as the CRISPR-Cas9 DNA snipping tool, a type of genetic “scissors” used to cut out a mutated gene in a human embryo and replace it by a corrected version.

However, the discovery could be too early for a Nobel, with a recent study suggesting the technique may damage DNA more than previously thought. A legal dispute is also raging over who discovered the technique.

It has been claimed on the one hand by the French-American research duo of Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, and on the other by Chinese-born American Feng Zhang.

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