Nobel Prize in Physiology & Medicine 2020

Every year at the onset of the month of October, the scientific community eagerly waits for the highest prizes in sciences, the Nobel Prize. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2020 was announced on October 05, to be awarded jointly to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice for the discovery of the Hepatitis C virus, a breakthrough that has made possible blood tests and new medicines that have saved millions of lives.

The Society for Promotion of Science of Science & Technology in India (SPSTI), in association with the Chandigarh chapter of the National Academy of Sciences, India and IISER Mohali conducted an online awareness lecture on the above topic on Saturday, October 31, 2020, at 11:30 AM, by  Padma Shri Prof. (Dr.) Yogesh K. Chawla, Ex-Director, PGIMER Chandigarh, a renowned hepatologist. He delivered an enlightening lecture on the topic to an audience of scientific temperament including educationists, Scientists and students and teachers. This was the first lecture in the series on Nobel prizes 2020, supported by the Department of Science & Technology, Chandigarh Administration.

Prof. Keya Dharamvir, General Secretary SPSTI welcomed those present. Sh. Dharam Vir IAS(Retired), President SPSTI, introduced the speaker. Prof. Arun Grover, former Vice Chancellor, Panjab University, spoke about the series of lectures covering each of the 2020 Nobel prizes, scheduled to be delivered by Dec. 10, when the prizes will be awarded. A message from Prof. Mriganka Sur of MIT, who is a Patron of SPSTI, was played in video form. Prof. I. B. S. Passi of NASI and Prof. J. S. Bagla from IISER Mohali also welcomed the audience.

The lecture was attended by 65 on the zoom window and 2904 reach on Facebook channel of SPSTI. Prof. Chawla first gave a brief account of the history of the Prize. He then shed light on the contribution of each of the three laureates, whose beginning of the research story dates back 50 years. According to him, the take-away from their path-breaking work are the key words, passion, persistence and collaboration. He compared the program of research involving Hepatitis C with that of the novel coronavirus. He presented at length the contribution of his group and department at PGIMER, towards the study of this disease in the Punjab region where it is widely prevalent.

There was a barrage of questions at the end of the lecture. Succinct remarks were made by Prof. R. C. Sobti, former VC of Panjab University.

December 10 is the date when the Nobel prizes are formally bestowed. SPSTI has scheduled six more presentations before that date for the general audience:  November 21 (Economics), November 17 (Literature), November 28 (Physics), December 05 & November 07 (Chemistry), and December 08 (Peace).

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