Crystallography and the Nobel Prize
There have been 12 Nobel Prizes in chemistry and physiology or medicine awarded for work in the field of crystallography from 1956 to 2006. Almost one in four chemistry prizes since 1956 have been for structure work, and in the last decade fully half have dealt with work related to macromolecular structure. From 1970 to 2006, 4% of all chemistry publications dealt with crystallography, yet this subfield captured 19% of the available Nobel Prizes. During the past decade, crystallography papers represented 7% of all chemistry publications, but commanded 4 of 10 available prizes. Overall, the Nobel Prizes in chemistry are noticeably enriched for work in macromolecular structure determination. Macromolecular structure determination is a potent tool to understand biological systems and periodically yields landmark results that impact the scientific community at large. It would also seem that the surest road to Stockholm is through a crystal tray. From a letter from Michael Seringhaus and Mark Gerstein, Science, January 2007 (Vol. 315, p. 412).