Nobel Prize In Medicine 2021, Ability To Sense Touch & Temperature – Free PDF Download


What has happened?

  • The first of the 2021 Nobel Prizes kicked off the week of announcements of the most coveted award.
  • David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian won the 2021 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch.

Nobel prize for what?

  • Our ability to sense heat, cold and touch is essential for survival and underpins our interaction with the world around us.
  • In our daily lives we take these sensations for granted, but how are nerve impulses initiated so that temperature and pressure can be perceived?
  • This question has been solved by this year’s Nobel Prize laureates.
  • David Julius utilized capsaicin, a pungent compound from chili peppers that induces a burning sensation, to identify a sensor in the nerve endings of the skin that responds to heat.
  • Ardem Patapoutian used pressure-sensitive cells to discover a novel class of sensors that respond to mechanical stimuli in the skin and internal organs.

  • These breakthrough discoveries launched intense research activities leading to a rapid increase in our understanding of how our nervous system senses heat, cold, and mechanical stimuli.
  • The laureates identified critical missing links in our understanding of the complex interplay between our senses and the environment.

Receptors in the skin

  • A number of receptors are distributed throughout the skin to respond to various touch-related stimuli.
  • These receptors include Meissner’s corpuscles, Pacinian corpuscles, Merkel’s disks, and Ruffini corpuscles.
  • Meissner’s corpusclesrespond to pressure and lower frequency vibrations, and Pacinian corpuscles detect transient pressure and higher frequency vibrations.
  • Merkel’s disksrespond to light pressure, while Ruffini corpuscles detect stretch.

  • There are three main groups of receptors in our skin:
    • Mechanoreceptors, responding to mechanical stimuli, such as stroking, stretching, or vibration of the skin;
    • Thermoreceptors, responding to cold or hot temperatures;
    • Chemoreceptors, responding to certain types of chemicals either applied externally or released within the skin (such as histamine from an inflammation).

What is the criteria for winner?

  • “Alfred Nobel was very clear in his will when he listed the criteria for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
  • He specifically stated he was looking for a discovery that would have a benefit to humankind so our criteria is very narrow.
  • We’re looking for a discovery that has either opened doors and helped us think about a problem in a new way, or the discovery has changed the way we think about a problem it’s paradigm shifting.”


  • The prestigious award comes with a gold medal and 10 million Swedish kronor (over $1.14 million).
  • The prize money comes from a bequest left by the prize’s creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, who died in 1895.

  • There will be no banquet in Stockholm this year and laureates will receive their Nobel Prize medals and diplomas in their home countries.
  • The traditional festivities were replaced last year as well with a mainly digital celebration as the pandemic raged Europe and the rest of the world.

Q) The 2020 Nobel Medicine Prize went for?

  1. Discovery of the Hepatitis C virus
  2. How cells react different oxygen levels
  3. Discoveries on internal biological clock
  4. Work on autophagy




Nobel Prize | Free PDF