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Nobel Prize Winners

Washington University and the School of Medicine have a long tradition of innovation and discovery.

At the medical school, this tradition has roots in the vision of university board member Robert S. Brookings, who in 1909 was determined to transform the medical school into a model for American medical education and research. Among the first recruits to this “modern medical school” was Joseph Erlanger, who Brookings appointed head of the physiology department in 1910. Three decades later, Erlanger won a Nobel prize.

In 1947, four Washington University faculty members were Nobel laureates, a record for an American university at the time. Pictured here, from left to right, are laureates Carl F. Cori, professor of biochemistry; Joseph Erlanger, professor emeritus of physiology; Gerty T. Cori, professor of biochemistry; and Chancellor Arthur H. Compton. Photo: Becker Medical Library

To date, 18 Nobel laureates have ties to the School of Medicine – and the tradition continues. With an ever-growing infrastructure that supports collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship, we equip our outstanding faculty, students and trainees with the resources to pursue discoveries that may shape science and medicine for generations to come.


1927: Arthur H. Compton (1892 – 1962)

“For his discovery of the effect named after him”
Physics

Washington University affiliations:
Professor of Physics (1920 – 23); Chancellor (1945 – 53); Distinguished Service Professor of Natural Philosophy (1954 – 61)
See biography »


1943: Edward A. Doisy (1893 – 1986)

“For his discovery of the chemical nature of vitamin K”
Physiology or Medicine

Washington University affiliations:
Instructor (1919 – 20), Associate (1920 – 22) and Associate Professor (1922 – 23) of Biological Chemistry
See biography »


1944: Joseph Erlanger (1874 – 1965)

“For … discoveries relating to the highly differentiated functions of single nerve fibres”
Physiology or Medicine

Washington University affiliation:
Professor of Physiology, 1910 – 46
See biography »


1944: Herbert S. Gasser (1888 – 1963)

“For … discoveries relating to the highly differentiated functions of single nerve fibres”
Physiology or Medicine

Washington University affiliations:
Instructor (1916 – 18), Associate (1918 – 20) and Associate Professor of Physiology (1920 – 21); Professor of Pharmacology (1921 – 31)
See biography »


1947: Carl F. Cori (1896 – 1984)

“For … discovery of the course of the catalytic conversion of glycogen”
Physiology or Medicine

Washington University affiliations:
Professor of Pharmacology (1931 – 46); Professor of Biological Chemistry (1942 – 66)
See biography »


1947: Gerty T. Cori (1896 – 1957)

“For … discovery of the course of the catalytic conversion of glycogen”
Physiology or Medicine

Washington University affiliations:
Fellow and Research Associate in Pharmacology (1931 – 44); Research Associate in Biological Chemistry (1943 – 44); Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Biological Chemistry (1944 – 47); Professor of Biological Chemistry (1947 – 57)
See biography »

In the news: Cori Nobel Prize medals donated to Washington University
Watch the video »


1959: Arthur Kornberg (1918 – 2007)

“For … discovery of the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxiribonucleic acid”
Physiology or Medicine

Washington University affiliation:
Professor of Microbiology (1953 – 59)
See biography »


1959: Severo Ochoa (1905 – 93)

“For … discovery of the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxiribonucleic acid”
Physiology or Medicine

Washington University affiliation:
Instructor and Research Associate in Pharmacology (1941 – 42)
See biography »


1969: Alfred Hershey (1908 – 97)

“For … discoveries concerning the replication mechanism and the genetic structure of viruses”
Physiology or Medicine

Washington University affiliations:
Assistant (1934 – 36), Instructor (1936 – 39), Assistant Professor (1939 – 46) and Associate Professor (1946 – 50) of Bacteriology and Immunology
See biography »


1971: Earl W. Sutherland, Jr. (1915 – 74)

“For his discoveries concerning the mechanisms of the action of hormones”
Physiology or Medicine

Washington University affiliations:
Student Assistant (1940 – 43) and Instructor (1945 – 46) in Pharmacology; Instructor (1946 – 50), Assistant Professor (1950 – 51) and Associate Professor (1951 – 53) of Biological Chemistry
See biography »


1978: Daniel Nathans (1928 – 99)

“For the discovery of restriction enzymes and their application to problems of molecular genetics”
Physiology or Medicine

Washington University affiliation:
Graduate of the School of Medicine (Class of 1954)
See biography »


1980: Paul Berg (1926)

“For his fundamental studies of the biochemistry of nucleic acids, with particular regard to recombinant DNA”
Chemistry

Washington University affiliations:
Research Fellow and Instructor (1954); Assistant Professor (1955 – 57) and Associate Professor (1957 – 59) of Microbiology
See biography »


1986: Stanley Cohen (1922)

“For … discoveries of ‘Growth Factors'”
Physiology or Medicine

Washington University affiliations:
Research Fellow (1952 – 53) and Research Associate (1953 – 59) in Zoology
See biography »


1986: Rita Levi-Montalcini (1909 – 2012)

“For … discoveries of ‘Growth Factors'”
Physiology or Medicine

Washington University affiliations:
Research Associate (1947 – 51), Associate Professor (1951 – 58) and Professor (1958 – 77) of Zoology
See biography »


1992: Edwin G. Krebs (1918)

“For … discoveries concerning reversible protein phosphorylation as a biological regulatory mechanism”
Physiology or Medicine

Washington University affiliations:
Graduate of the School of Medicine (Class of 1943); Intern and Resident at Barnes-Jewish Hospital (1944 – 46); Research Fellow in Biological Chemistry (1946 – 48)
See biography »


1998: Robert F. Furchgott (1916)

“For … discoveries concerning nitric oxide as a signalling molecule in the cardiovascular system”
Physiology or Medicine

Washington University affiliations:
Assistant Professor (1946 – 52) and Associate Professor (1952 – 56) of Pharmacology
See biography »


2004: Aaron Ciechanover (1947)

“For the discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation”
Chemistry

Washington University affiliation:
Visiting Professor of Pediatrics (1987 – 2001)
See biography »


2012: Brian K. Kobilka (1955)

“For studies of G-protein-coupled receptors”
Chemistry

Washington University affiliation:
Medical Resident at Barnes Hospital (1981 – 84)
See biography »


Rita Levi-Montalcini in her Washington University laboratory in the early 1960s. Levi-Montalcini and her co-researcher, Stanley Cohen, also of Washington University, were awarded a Nobel prize in 1986 for their discovery of nerve growth factors (NGF). Photo: Becker Medical Library