Earlier this morning, the Roal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich, and Aziz Sancar for their mechanistic studies of DNA repair, in particular their work on base excision repair (Lindahl), nucleotide excision repair (Sancar), and mismatch repair (Modrich). Congratulations to the awardees!
Interrestingly, the Lasker foundation also awarded its 2015 prize for basic medical research to researchers working DNA damage and DNA repair, but chose to award two different researchers: Stephen Elledge and Evelyn Witkin. The work is somewhat orthogonal to the work honored by the Nobel prize, however. Whereas Lindahl, Sancar, and Modrich focused their work on the biochemical processes that recognize and fix DNA repair, Elledge and Witkin focused their work on the cellular signalling pathways that arrest the cell cycle in response to DNA damage. Both lines of inquiry have been important to our understanding of how organisms respond to and deal with DNA damage. Hopefully, the Nobel committee will be able to recognize the contributions of Elledge and Witkin in the future, especially given the long history of the Nobel prize passing over female scientists.