The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded jointly to David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian “for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch.”
Their work sheds light on how to reduce chronic and acute pain associated with a range of diseases, trauma and their treatments.
“Our ability to sense heat, cold and touch is essential for survival and underpins our interaction with the world around us,” the Nobel committee said in a news release.
The winners were announced on Monday by Thomas Perlmann. He is the secretary-general of the Nobel Committee. The prestigious award comes with a gold medal and prize money of over $1.14 million.
Patrik Ernfors of the Nobel Committee said Julius used capsaicin, the active component in chili peppers, to identify the nerve sensors that allow the skin to respond to heat. He said Patapoutian found separate pressure-sensitive sensors in cells that respond to mechanical stimulation.
Last year’s Nobel medicine prize went to three scientists who discovered the liver-ravaging hepatitis C virus, a breakthrough that led to cures for the deadly disease and tests to keep the scourge from spreading though blood banks.