Regardless of where you’re from, it is extremely likely that, at one point or another, you have grown up learning or at least hearing about the Nobel Prize – an award presented every year to people and/or organizations that have ultimately made the world a better place for everyone. From the Red Cross to Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr. to Mother Teresa, Marie Curie to Watson & Crick (the guys who originally discovered the shape of DNA), and many others, it is evident that the world in which we live would look much different without the perseverance, leadership, and vision exemplified by these well-deserving innovators.
When Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist, engineer, and inventor of dynamite, passed away in 1896, he left behind a historic will and testament that, in less than four pages, outlined how he wanted his invention-derived fortune spent. Nobel’s wealth would henceforth be used to establish a series of prizes awarded to those who confer the “greatest benefit to mankind”. Prior to the addition of an Economic Sciences award in 1968, Nobel Prizes were awarded in Chemistry, Literature, Medicine or Physiology, Physics, and Peace.
Little did I know that Alfred Nobel and the mark that he made on society would have such a major impact on my time studying abroad in Stockholm, Sweden. Not only has each of my classes discussed the history of this world-famous distinction from unique perspectives, but we also have had the opportunity to experience the excitement that comes with living and studying in the very city responsible for awarding these prizes.
In my core course, Translational Medicine: From Bench to Bedside, we have had the opportunity to tour the Nobel Museum and listen to guest speakers share unique perspectives on the history of Mr. Nobel and his prize. Additionally, my elective courses such as Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Tumor Biology and Oncology, and Public Health Policy in Practice have each consisted of fun and interactive field studies and interesting lectures dedicated to exploring the real-world applications of the material we are learning about in the classroom at the same time.
During our Immunology course’s field study at Karolinska Institute, for instance, we had the opportunity to tour ‘Nobel Forum’, the building where 50 medical professors at Karolinska gather together and review the hundreds of worthy nominations and ultimately decide on no more than three individual recipients for the prize in Medicine or Physiology. What better place to see where the real magic happens?
You heard it here first! From October 3-10, this year’s Nobel laureates will be announced here in Sweden and to the rest of the world. So far, the names of those who won prizes in Medicine/Physiology, Physics, and Chemistry have been released and all will be convening in Stockholm in early December to receive their awards from the King, give lectures around the city, and eat a very fancy dinner at the City Hall.
In just over a month, we will be packing our bags and moving to Copenhagen, Denmark to continue our studies in a brand new, yet still Scandinavian environment. It is my goal to finish taking my last exam on December 9th and travel back to Stockholm to not only see my Homestay hosts again, but also to make it back in time for the Nobel festivities the next day!
As a witness of history unfolding around me in my new backyard, I could not agree more with one of DIS’s catchy and quite factual slogans. “Scandinavia as your home [and] Europe as your classroom.”
What will you do to give back to society and confer the “greatest benefit to mankind”?