Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitetet

Fantastic- historic!

An historic day for NTNU has now gone down in the history books. Now it’s time to take a breather and think about the significance of what has happened. Foto: Geir Mogen/NTNU

Edvard and May-Britt Moser have been named as Norway’s first Nobel Laureates in Medicine. Photo: Geir Mogen/NTNU

The fact that May-Britt and Edvard Moser have received the Nobel Prize in Medicine is so big that it is almost impossible to put into words how much it really means. It is big, not only for the Nobel Prize winners themselves, for their colleagues at the Kavli Institute and at NTNU, but for Norway and Norwegian research.

Exceptionally young

This is the first time in history that the Nobel Prize in Medicine has been awarded to Norway. When we first found out, virtually no one was surprised that the Mosers had been selected. Their pioneering research on memory and sense of place is internationally recognized, and they have already been lauded with nearly every other international academic award possible in their field.

What was surprising, though, was that the Nobel committee elected to recognize Edvard and May-Britt while they are still relatively young and at a relatively early stage in their careers. That in itself has much to say about the quality of their research, when they are awarded the world’s top scientific award now, and not decades after their discovery. I, along with many others, have both hoped and believed that they would receive the Nobel Prize – someday. The surprise was that it happened so soon.

Some have compared winning the Nobel Prize to winning Olympic gold. It is probably not necessary to note this, but consider: Norway has had just 11 Nobel Prize winners (including three Memorial Prizes in Economic Sciences) from 1903 until the Mosers were named. How many Olympic medals have Norwegians won over the same period?

Belief and support

After an overwhelming day, where I was eventually able to congratulate May-Britt face-to-face and Edvard by telephone in Munich, I had not had much of a chance to see the celebratory video clips of May-Britt and others.

I noticed immediately that May-Britt – as always – shared the honour.

“This award is for NTNU, which believed in us from the very beginning,” was a typical statement that obviously makes a rector smile.

And it’s true, NTNU has believed in the Mosers. We have invested considerable resources in their research, and tried to ensure that their group is able to flourish and grow. We have been able to do this because we have all worked together.

Outstanding and dedicated

But none of this would be possible without May-Britt and Edvard themselves. It has only been possible because they are dedicated, outstanding researchers, with a special ability to both think in new ways while still keeping their eye on the ball.

It is also because they are amazing team builders. They have been very ambitious when it comes to recruitment, they have deliberately collaborated with the best researchers in the world – and they have had a systematic, targeted approach to the EU. This has had tangible results: Edward has twice won ERC grants, May-Britt has won one, and their research group has also been awarded a fair share of this funding.

The Nobel Prize is also recognition of what can be achieved at NTNU. In this way, it has significance for all of our research groups. It proves that we can hold our own with the very best.

We will celebrate!

We raised the flag outside of the Main Administration Building as soon as we heard the news. I know it affected our colleagues across the campus – and around the world – all of whom felt an incredible pride and joy in the Mosers’ achievement. Congratulations to you all! I promise that we will have a truly memorable celebration when this year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine is awarded on December 10.

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  1. Nobelprisen: Lenkesamling | Næringslivsavisa Trondheim | 07/10/2014
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