In the News
How Many Texans Have Won the Nobel Prize? Here is a list.
Texas, October 8, 2022
By: DALIA FAHEID
On Friday, one of 343 candidates will be crowned with the world’s most elite award — the Nobel Peace Prize. The winner, announced in Oslo, Norway, will go down in history with the likes of Mikhail Gorbachev, Malala Yousafzai and Nelson Mandela.
On Dec. 10, they’ll receive $900,000 along with a diploma and gold medal.
Nobel Prize winners in physics, chemistry, physiology/medicine and literature have already been announced.
The recipient of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences will be announced on Monday.
A handful of Texans have won the Nobel Prize, but only one has won a Nobel Peace Prize. With three more Texans nominated this year, the second Texan Nobel Peace Prize winner could be announced on Friday.
WHO ARE THE TEXAN NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS?
John Goodenough, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2019
At 97 years old, the Cockrell School of Engineering professor received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, becoming the oldest person to win a Nobel Prize. Goodenough won the award for his part in developing the lithium-ion battery, which powers most portable electronic devices including cell phones, laptop computers and electric cars.
It can also store significant energy from solar and wind power, which has allowed for the development of new clean energy technologies.
James Allison, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2018 Allison, chairman of immunology at MD Anderson Cancer Center, won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for “a major landmark in the fight against cancer.”
The UT alumnus, alongside Tasuku Honjo of Kyoto University, discovered a new way to attack cancer by releasing the brakes on immune cells. His work in immunotherapy has saved lives and turned previously untreatable diagnoses treatable.
Michael W. Young, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2017 UT alumnus Michael W. Young won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for research into how plants, animals and humans synchronize their biological clocks with the Earth’s rotation.
Alongside researchers Jeffrey Hall and Michael Rosbash, he studied genes of fruit flies and discovered that they accumulated a specific protein at night that gradually degraded during the daytime.
Aziz Sancar, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2015 University of Texas at Dallas alumnus Aziz Sancar won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for mechanistic studies of DNA repair.”
Sancar received his molecular and cell biology doctorate at UTD in 1977 and is a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill. Sancar showed how certain protein molecules, certain repair enzymes, repair DNA damaged by ultraviolet light. These discoveries have increased understanding of how the living cell works, the causes of cancer and aging processes.
Bruce Beutler, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2011 After having studied to become a doctor at the University of Chicago, Beutler conducted his Nobel Prize-awarded work at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas in the 1990s. By studying mice with mutations, he discovered an important family of receptors that allow mammals to sense infections when they occur, triggering a powerful inflammatory response.
John Maxwell Coetzee, Nobel Prize in Literature, 2003 Praised for the universal and humanistic character of his literary work, Coetzee won the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature. The UT alumnus who graduated with a Ph.D. in 1969 was the first to win the Booker prize twice for “The Life & Times of Michael K” in 1983 and “Disgrace” in 1989.
Alan MacDiarmid, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2000 Scientist Alan MacDiarmid was a distinguished scholar in residence at The University of Texas at Dallas. He won the 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery and development of certain plastics that can be chemically modified to conduct electricity. MacDiarmid joined the faculty of UTD in 2002, and the university’s Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute was named after him posthumously in 2007.
Jack Kilby, Nobel Prize in Physics, 2000 The electrical engineer developed the first integrated circuit, or microchip, while working at Texas Instruments in 1958. It came to be a vital component in computers and other electronic equipment. The invention created new opportunities to amplify and control electrical signals. Kilby died in Dallas in 2005. He was 81 years old.
Robert F. Curl Jr., Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1996 Robert Curl, a Rice University chemist from Alice, Texas, helped launch the field of carbon nanomaterials. In 1985, Curl, Richard Smalley and Harold Kroto irradiated a surface of graphite with laser pulses so that carbon gas was formed. When the carbon gas condensed, previously unknown structures were formed. The structures were called fullerenes in honor of architect Buckminster Fuller, who worked with this geometric shape. Curl died on July 3 in Houston, at 88 years old. Alfred Gilman, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1994 A UT Southwestern pharmacologist won a Nobel Prize for his discovery of G proteins, which help to send chemical signals to cells. His research had far-reaching medical implications, as abnormally functioning G proteins can play a role in diseases like cholera, cancer and diabetes. In 2015, Gilman died in Dallas at age 74.
Russell Alan Hulse, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1993 Physicist Hulse won the Nobel Prize for the discovery of the first binary pulsar, which opened up new possibilities for the study of gravitation. Hulse later joined the University of Texas at Dallas and became the founding director of the Science and Engineering Education Center.
E. Donnall Thomas, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1990 Known as “the father of bone marrow transplantation,” E. Donnall Thomas received his bachelor’s degree from UT in 1941 and his master’s in 1943. He won the 1990 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine when he showed bone marrow could be successfully transplanted to treat illnesses such as leukemia, paving the way for the use of organ and cell transplants to treat diseases.
Johann Deisenhofer, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1988 UT Southwestern professor Johann Deisenhofer received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1988 for the determination of the three-dimensional structure of a photosynthetic reaction center. The structure of the reaction center helped explain the mechanism of the conversion of light energy into chemical energy in photosynthesis, a biological process almost all life depends on.
Michael S. Brown and Joseph Goldstein, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1985 University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center researchers Brown and Goldstein were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1985 for describing the regulation of cholesterol metabolism. They discovered the receptor in cells that takes in cholesterol and clarified how the conversion of cholesterol is regulated by our genes and other substances. The discoveries became the basis for statins, medications that reduce cholesterol levels in the blood.
Steven Weinberg, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1979 Steven Weinberg, a UT professor considered one of the world’s greatest theoretical physicists, won the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics. Weinberg proposed a theory unifying two fundamental forces of nature that led to the development of the standard model of particle physics, which predicted the existence of the Higgs boson “God particle.”
Ilya Prigogine, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1977 The former UT professor won the 1977 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Prigogine showed how complex structures, like life on Earth, could arise despite the law of physics that says all physical systems tend to become less organized over time. The chemist’s research also helped explain the growth of cities and the dynamics of traffic jams.
Norman Borlaug, Nobel Peace Prize, 1970 Named the “the father of the Green Revolution,” Norman Borlaug is the only Texan who has won the Nobel Peace Prize. Through extensive increases in agricultural production, Borlaug is credited with saving over a billion people worldwide from starvation. The agronomist was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. In 1984, Borlaug began teaching and conducting research at Texas A&M University, where he became Distinguished Professor of International Agriculture and Eugene Butler Endowed Chair in Agricultural Biotechnology. In 2006, Texas A&M created the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture.
Hermann Joseph Muller, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1946 A UT professor from 1920 to 1932, Muller won the 1946 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine because he was the first to show that radiation from X-rays could cause gene mutations. And Muller played a key role in early efforts to warn the public about the dangers of radiation.
WHO ARE THE TEXANS NOMINATED FOR A NOBEL PEACE PRIZE IN 2022?
Three Texans have been nominated for the prestigious award. Texas Children’s researchers Peter Hotez and Maria Elena Bottazzi have been nominated for the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize for developing a low-cost COVID-19 vaccine that can be made widely accessible to the entire global population. As co-directors of Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development, the duo developed CORBEVAX. Known as “The World’s COVID-19 Vaccine,” its protein-based technology can be produced at large scales.
Rep. Lizzie Fletcher of Houston nominated the pair, calling it “a contribution that is of the greatest benefit to humankind.” Fort Worth’s Opal Lee, known as “the Grandmother of Juneteenth,” could become the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize winner for her movement to make Juneteenth a federally-recognized holiday. The announcement will be made on Lee’s 96th birthday.