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Surgery is not typically a Nobel Prize winning category, but there have been some notable exceptions.
Theodore Kocher perfected nearly bloodless thyroid surgery, making the treacherous operation for goiter safe for the first time in history.
Unfortunately, he was so good at removing every last bit of thyroid tissue that he inadvertently plunged his patients into the dementia cretinism due to lack of any thyroid hormones.
Cretinism Normal, same patient
Egas Moniz won the prize for inventing lobotomy, involving jamming an icepick-like instrument under the brow bone and then scraping it back and forth to decimate frontal lobe brain tissue.
Charles Richet adopted his mother’s sewing techniques to develop a new method to stitch blood vessels together nearly seamlessly. Although this contributed to making organ transplants possible, Richet did not have the good of humanity in mind. In fact, he wrote an entire book on his philosophies of the disgusting nature of mankind, and how broad sections of the population ought to be eliminated.
Such are the nature of remarkable contradictions among Nobel laureates, truly a mix of heroes and scoundrels, boneheads and brainiacs.
Please join me virtually on Thursday, December 8th at 7PM Central for a lively discussion of Heroes & Scoundrels hosted by the International Museum of Surgical Sciences.
This year’s winner Svante Pääbo was recognized for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution. Check your genetic profile to see if you, too, have Neanderthal heritage!
You can enjoy the live awards ceremony virtually where the King of Sweden bestows the gold medals: Sat. December 10, 2022 at 9AM central time. The link here shows the entire week of Nobel events, and will be the link for the awards on Saturday.
These books make great holiday gifts!