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Nobel Laureates and the American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society is honored to have given funding to 50 investigators who went on to win the Nobel Prize, considered the highest accolade any scientist can receive. This is a tribute to the Society’s Research program and the strength of its peer-review process.

Congratulations to Our 50th ACS-Funded Nobel Prize Winner

 

Carolyn Bertozzi, PhD, research chemist at Stanford University:
1993 Awarded ACS research grant
1997 Awarded 2nd ACS research grant 
2000 Awarded 3rd ACS research grant
2000-2022 Mentored 8 ACS-funded researchers
2022 First woman funded by ACS to win a Nobel Prize

Read all about it.

Nobel Prize Winners

white woman with grayish hair wearing light blue collared shirt in front of blurred trees

Carolyn Bertozzi, PhD

2022 Nobel Prize | Chemistry

Developed click chemistry and bio-orthogonal chemistry. Click chemistry enables technology that can be used in the design of precision cancer therapeutics. She specifically developed click reactions that work inside living organisms. Her bio-orthogonal reactions take place without disrupting the normal chemistry of the cell. These reactions are now used globally to explore cells and track biological processes. 

William G. Kaelin Jr, MD, 2019 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

William G. Kaelin Jr, MD

2019 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Discovered the molecular “switch” that controls how cells respond to changing oxygen levels. Oxygen sensing is key to many diseases – for example, cancer cells hijack the oxygen process to increase their metabolism and fuel their growth. This discovery has had a significant impact on understanding cancer and has helped establish new treatment strategies. This prize was awarded jointly to William G. Kaelin, Jr., MD, Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe, MD, and Gregg L. Semenza, MD, PhD. 

Gregg L. Semenza, MD, PhD,  2019 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Gregg L. Semenza, MD, PhD

2019 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Discovered the molecular “switch” that controls how cells respond to changing oxygen levels. Oxygen sensing is key to many diseases – for example, cancer cells hijack the oxygen process to increase their metabolism and fuel their growth. This discovery has had a significant impact on understanding cancer and has helped establish new treatment strategies. This prize was awarded jointly to William G. Kaelin, Jr., MD, Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe, MD, and Gregg L. Semenza, MD, PhD. 

James E. Rothman, PhD 2013 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

James E. Rothman, PhD

2013 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Defined the control of the movement of membranes in cells, which contributes greatly to the understanding of cell functioning in numerous diseases, including cancer. These internal cell membranes are key to the function of cells and the ability of cells to move, both of which are hallmarks of cancer cells.

Bruce Beutler, PhD 2011 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Bruce Beutler, PhD

2011 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Discovered receptor proteins that can recognize bacteria and other microorganisms as they enter the body, and activate innate immunity

Ralph Steinman, PhD 2011 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Ralph Steinman, PhD

2011 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Discovered a new cell type that he called the dendritic cell, which led to the first therapeutic vaccine for prostate cancer, Provenge

Thomas A. Steitz, PhD 2009 Nobel Prize | Chemistry

Thomas A. Steitz, PhD

2009 Nobel Prize | Chemistry

Studied the structure and function of the ribosome

Jack W. Szostak, PhD 2009 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Jack W. Szostak, PhD

2009 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Helped discover how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase

black and white photo of Mario R. Capecchi, PhD, 2007 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Mario R. Capecchi, PhD

2007 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Developed techniques for manipulating individual genes using mouse embryonic stem cells. This allowed for a more precise understanding of how individual genes worked in the mouse and accelerated the use of the mouse as a model of human cancer. This work has led to the identification of genes that are targets of cancer therapies. This prize was awarded jointly to Mario R. Capecchi, PhD, Sir Martin J. Evans, PhD, and Oliver Smithies, PhD.

black and white photo of Oliver Smithies, PhD, 2007 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Oliver Smithies, PhD

2007 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Developed techniques for manipulating individual genes, using mouse embryonic stem cells. This allowed for a more precise understanding of how individual genes worked in the mouse and accelerated the use of the mouse as a model of human cancer. This work has led to the identification of genes that are targets of cancer therapies. Dr. Smithies was funded for earlier work on genetic control of protein structure and synthesis. This prize was awarded jointly to Mario R. Capecchi, PhD, Sir Martin J. Evans, PhD, and Oliver Smithies, PhD.

black and white photo of Roger D Kornberg, PhD, 2006 Nobel Prize | Chemistry

Roger D Kornberg, PhD

2006 Nobel Prize | Chemistry

Studied the molecular basis of eukaryotic transcription

black and white photo of Craig C. Mello, PhD, 2006 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Craig C. Mello, PhD

2006 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Helped discover RNA interference - gene silencing by double-stranded RNA

Aaron Ciechanover, MD, 2004, Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Aaron Ciechanover, MD

2004 Nobel Prize | Chemistry

Helped discover ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation. This prize was awarded jointly to Aaron Ciechanover, MD, Avram Hershko, MD, PhD, and Irwin Rose, PhD. 

black and white photo of Avram Hershko, MD, PhD, 2004 Nobel Prize | Chemistry

Avram Hershko, MD, PhD

2004 Nobel Prize | Chemistry

Helped discover ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation. This prize was awarded jointly to Aaron Ciechanover, MD, Avram Hershko, MD, PhD, and Irwin Rose, PhD. 

black and white photo of Irwin A. Rose, PhD, 2004 Nobel Prize | Chemistry

Irwin A. Rose, PhD

2004 Nobel Prize | Chemistry

Helped discover ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation. This prize was awarded jointly to Aaron Ciechanover, MD, Avram Hershko, MD, PhD, and Irwin Rose, PhD. 

black and white photo of Leland Hartwell, PhD, 2001 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Leland Hartwell, PhD

2001 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Discovered key regulators of the cell cycle

black and white photo of Günter Blobel, MD, PhD, 1999 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Günter Blobel, MD, PhD

1999 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Discovered how proteins find their proper location in the cell

black and white photo of Edward B. Lewis, PhD, 1995 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Edward B. Lewis, PhD

1995 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Found evidence that certain patterns in development apply to human cancers

black and white photo of Alfred Gilman, MD, PhD, 1994 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Alfred Gilman, MD, PhD

1994 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Helped to understand how cells talk to one another

black and white photo of Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, 1993 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Phillip A. Sharp, PhD

1993 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Showed that readable regions on DNA are separated by some regions that cannot be read

black and white photo of E. Donnall Thomas, MD, 1990 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

E. Donnall Thomas, MD

1990 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Pioneered bone marrow transplantation

black and white photo of Sidney Altman, PhD, 1989 Nobel Prize | Chemistry

Sidney Altman, PhD

1989 Nobel Prize | Chemistry

Discovered that RNA can sometimes act as an enzyme

black and white photo of Thomas R. Cech, PhD, 1989 Nobel Prize | Chemistry

Thomas R. Cech, PhD

1989 Nobel Prize | Chemistry

Found evidence that RNA may have enzymatic properties in cells

black and white photo of J. Michael Bishop, MD, 1989 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

J. Michael Bishop, MD

1989 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Discovered latent cancer genes, oncogenes, in normal cells

black and white photo of Harold E. Varmus, MD, 1989 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Harold E. Varmus, MD

1989 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Showed that defects in normal genes can cause cancer

black and white photo of Susumu Tonegawa, PhD, 1987 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Susumu Tonegawa, PhD

1987 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Discovered how antibodies are made by cells of the immune system

black and white photo of Stanley Cohen, PhD, 1986 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Stanley Cohen, PhD

1986 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Showed that some growth factors influence cancer development

black and white photo of Paul Berg, PhD, 1980 Nobel Prize | Chemistry

Paul Berg, PhD

1980 Nobel Prize | Chemistry

Was the first to create a recombinant DNA molecule

black and white photo of Walter Gilbert, MD, 1980 Nobel Prize | Chemistry

Walter Gilbert, MD

1980 Nobel Prize | Chemistry

Developed a method important for sequencing DNA

black and white photo of Baruj Benacerraf, MD, 1980 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Baruj Benacerraf, MD

1980 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Contributed to the understanding of the genetic basis of immunology

black and white photo of Daniel Nathans, MD, 1978 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Daniel Nathans, MD

1978 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Discovered enzymes that modify DNA, facilitating the study of genes

black and white photo of Hamilton O. Smith, MD, 1978 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Hamilton O. Smith, MD

1978 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Discovered DNA splicing enzymes important for genetic engineering

black and white photo of Renato Dulbecco, MD, 1975 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Renato Dulbecco, MD

1975 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Found that certain animal cancer viruses can insert themselves into a cell's DNA

black and white photo of Howard M. Temin, PhD, 1975 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Howard M. Temin, PhD

1975 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Discovered the reverse transcriptase that translates RNA into DNA

black and white photo of David Baltimore, PhD, 1975 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

David Baltimore, PhD

1975 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Found that some RNA viruses can transfer their information to DNA

black and white photo of Christian B. Anfinsen, PhD, 1972 Nobel Prize | Chemistry

Christian B. Anfinsen, PhD

1972 Nobel Prize | Chemistry

Discovered how enzymes assume their active shapes within the living cell

black and white photo of Salvador E. Luria, MD, 1969 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Salvador E. Luria, MD

1969 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Did important work on phages to provide basic knowledge of viruses

black and white photo of Max Delbruck, PhD, 1969 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Max Delbruck, PhD

1969 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Showed how DNA replicates itself and the genetic structure of viruses

black and white photo of Robert Holley, PhD, 1968 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Robert Holley, PhD

1968 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Determined the structure of transfer RNA, which is important in protein synthesis

black and white photo of Marshall Nirenberg, PhD, 1968 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Marshall Nirenberg, PhD

1968 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis

black and white photo of Charles B. Huggins, MD, 1966 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Charles B. Huggins, MD

1966 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Demonstrated hormonal dependence of breast and prostate cancer cells

black and white photo of Francis P. Rous, MD, 1966 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Francis P. Rous, MD

1966 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Discovered that cancer can be induced by injecting a tumor extract

black and white photo of Robert Burns Woodward, PhD, 1965 Nobel Prize | Chemistry

Robert Burns Woodward, PhD

1965 Nobel Prize | Chemistry

Determined how the body uses small compounds to build organic molecules for life’s functions

black and white photo of James D. Watson, PhD, 1962 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

James D. Watson, PhD

1962 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Discovered the double helix structure of DNA

black and white photo of Severo Ochoa, MD, 1959 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Severo Ochoa, MD

1959 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Discovered RNA polymerase, an enzyme that synthesizes RNA

black and white photo of Edward L. Tatum, PhD, 1958 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Edward L. Tatum, PhD

1958 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Reported that mutations can alter nutritional requirements of cells

black and white photo of George W. Beadle, PhD, 1958 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

George W. Beadle, PhD

1958 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Provided evidence that for every enzyme there is one gene

Vincent du Vigneaud, PhD

1955 Nobel Prize | Chemistry

Isolated and synthesized two sulfurous pituitary hormones. The element sulfur plays an important role in the chemical processes that are the basis of all life. 

black and white photo of Fritz Lipmann, MD, PhD, 1953 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Fritz Lipmann, MD, PhD

1953 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Discovered an enzyme that helps to convert food into energy

black and white photo of Hermann Joseph Muller, PhD, 1946 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Hermann Joseph Muller, PhD

1946 Nobel Prize | Physiology or Medicine

Discovered that x-ray irradiation can produce cell mutations