News & CommentNOBEL PRIZE

Prusiner Recognized for Once-Heretical Prion Theory

Science  10 Oct 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5336, pp. 214
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5336.214

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The Nobel committee often honors scientists who spent years working against strong opposition on controversial ideas, but usually the prize arrives long after the dust has settled. Not so this year for the prize in physiology or medicine. Stockholm's Karolinska Institute announced Monday that it had chosen to honor University of California, San Francisco, professor Stanley Prusiner "for his discovery of prions--a new biological principle of infection." Prusiner has championed the idea that infectious proteins can cause a range of degenerative brain diseases by misfolding and causing other proteins to do likewise, but some critics say the evidence is not conclusive. [See Prusiner's Article on page 245. (Note: Due to the interest in this article, Science is offering its readers free access to the full text.)]