söndag 9 maj 2010

The smell of a Nobel Prize

I write my column Smells like Victory for TCS Daily on 15 October 2004.
Nobel Prize for Medicine makes scents
This year's Nobel Prize for medicine might not seem all that exciting: Richard Axel and Linda B. Buck shared it for their discoveries of odorant receptors and the organization of the olfactory system.

But it's a prize rewarding good basic research in an area that is often neglected. Olfaction is one of the least studied senses (only taste is less understood), which is surprising given the great importance of smell to life quality, in animal behavior and in medicine. As any doctor can tell you, odor is one of the key diagnostic tools, but also one of the least endearing parts of the job. Impairment of smell contributes to malnourishment with the elderly and infirm and spoils life quality

But the research behind this particular Nobel Prize might actually contribute to quality of life on a far wider scale than many of the other recent prizes - although through market applications rather than any traditional medical use.
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