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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, 19 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.

Compton

1927: Arthur H. Compton
(1892 – 1962)

Physics

“For his discovery of the effect named after him”

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

Doisy

1943: Edward A. Doisy
(1893 – 1986)

Physiology or Medicine

“For his discovery of the chemical nature of vitamin K”

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

Erlanger

1944: Joseph Erlanger
(1874 – 1965)

Physiology or Medicine

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

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

Gasser

1944: Herbert S. Gasser
(1888 – 1963)

Physiology or Medicine

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

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

Carl F. Cori

1947: Carl F. Cori
(1896 – 1984)

Physiology or Medicine

“For … discovery of the course of the catalytic conversion of glycogen”

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

Gerty T. Cori

1947: Gerty T. Cori
(1896 – 1957)

Physiology or Medicine

“For … discovery of the course of the catalytic conversion of glycogen”

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 »

Kornberg

1959: Arthur Kornberg
(1918 – 2007)

Physiology or Medicine

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

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

Ochoa

1959: Severo Ochoa
(1905 – 93)

Physiology or Medicine

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

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

Hershey

1969: Alfred Hershey
(1908 – 97)

Physiology or Medicine

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

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

Sutherland

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

Physiology or Medicine

“For his discoveries concerning the mechanisms of the action of hormones”

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 »

Nathans

1978: Daniel Nathans
(1928 – 99)

Physiology or Medicine

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

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

Berg

1980: Paul Berg
(1926)

Chemistry

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

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 – 2020)

Physiology or Medicine

“For … discoveries of ‘Growth Factors'”

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

Levi-Montalcini

1986: Rita Levi-Montalcini
(1909 – 2012)

Physiology or Medicine

“For … discoveries of ‘Growth Factors'”

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

Krebs

1992: Edwin G. Krebs
(1918 – 2009)

Physiology or Medicine

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

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 »

Furchgott

1998: Robert F. Furchgott
(1916 – 2009)

Physiology or Medicine

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

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

Ciechanoverv

2004: Aaron Ciechanover
(1947)

Chemistry

“For the discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation”

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

2012: Brian K. Kobilka
(1955)

Chemistry

“For studies of G-protein-coupled receptors”

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

2020: Charles M. Rice, PhD
(1952)

Physiology or Medicine

“For the discovery of Hepatitis C virus”

Washington University affiliation:
Conducted his seminal work while on the faculty from 1986 to 2000
Read the announcement »


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