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Epidemiology and the Nobel prize
  1. Rodolfo Saracci
  1. Rodolfo Saracci, IFC-National Research Council, Via Trieste 41, 56100 Pisa, Italy; saracci{at}

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Alfredo Morabia’s insightful commentary1 on epidemiologists and the Nobel prize reaches a sensitive nerve, going deeper than just the prize question.

Every time a Nobel winner is chosen, there are a number of factors at play: the rule that no more than three living winners can be designated for a discovery; the latitude in defining a discovery, as exemplified in 2008 by the choice of putting together scientists who have identified the viral causes of two (mainly) sexually transmitted but very different diseases, AIDS and cervical cancer; less palpable and indirect academic and political influences and, inevitably, the subjectivity of the jury. None of these factors however would go an inch towards explaining why epidemiologists who have without any question made huge contributions to health improvement (or, in words from Alfred Nobel’s will, to “…the greatest benefit on …

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  • Competing interests: None declared.