Just a few short weeks after the highly irreverent yet still important Ig Nobel Ceremony, the science community recognized the cream of its crop with the 2023 Nobel Prizes in the first full week of October. The dates for the official announcements are aligned with their usual order throughout the years, always announcing Physiology and Medicine first, then Physics, then Chemistry. The Nobel Committee will transition toward the Literature and Peace prizes to round out the week before Economics is announced on the following Monday. As usual, these prizes recognize a lifetime of work that has given the greatest benefit to humanity. Click the links to check out some of our picks for greatest Nobel science achievements as well a look at last year's Nobel winners, but here we go for this year's running tally of scientific legend.
Having navigated the worst of a pandemic, it is amazing how just barely over a year since the first reports of SARS-CoV-2, a vaccine was developed. What might not be as well known is that the foundation for the COVID-19 vaccine (and a just-as-rapid quell of the spread, though obviously still be vigilant and take proper precautions) was laid out for decades with the study of mRNA-based vaccines. Although I still masked up regularly until early 2023, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to get the vaccine as soon as it was available in 2021, as my family and I sought to protect ourselves and others through a day or two of aches and nausea. The scientists and technicians at the various companies that conceived of and manufactured the vaccines that have been distributed across the planet are relatively anonymous but should be commended. August being National Immunization Awareness Month, let us learn a bit more about vaccination and the pioneers that offer us important protections that we should not take for granted.
It has now been over a year since March 2020, when the World Health Organization determined that the growing spread of COVID-19 would be officially characterized as a global pandemic. The year that followed challenged humanity with a public health crisis on a scale that few could even imagine, with far-reaching social and economic impacts still being felt across the globe. And yet, this past year also brought out the best in many of us, with medical professionals diligently fighting the pandemic on the front lines and researchers collaborating to progress our global recovery. Owing to the relentless work of researchers making breakthroughs in vaccine research, it appears that the long road to recovery has finally begun.
Ebola outbreaks are considered rare, but they do emerge every several years and can be quite lethal. Although the first confirmed Ebola epidemic was in 1976, we still lack licensed therapeutics to prevent and control Ebola’s spread. Vaccine development is in the works, but the lack of an approved treatment is a chilling reminder that we may not know enough about the virus. With the recent outbreaks in mind, we sought to summarize everything you should know about Ebola, its biology, and the current progress of vaccine development.