correspondence Protest at Nobel omission of Moncada Sir — The University of El Salvador and its Sir — The Nobel committee’s decision to of Sciences for chemistry and physics; the Faculty of Medicine and the National award the prize in physiology or medicine Nobel Assembly of the Karolinska Institute University of Honduras and its Faculty of to Robert Furchgott, Louis Ignarro and for physiology or medicine; the Swedish Medical Sciences wish to express their deep Ferid Murad has aroused controversy. I Academy for literature; and the Norwegian regret and strong protest at the exclusion of think it important to point out that, Parliament for peace. 8 Salvador Moncada from the 1998 Nobel although Ignarro’s 1987 paper in the Bo G. Malmström Prize in Physiology or Medicine1. Proceedings of the National Academy of Department of Chemistry, Göteborg University, The first demonstration that nitric oxide Sciences4 is more widely recognized, in fact SE-405 30 Goteborg, Sweden is a biological mediator in the he submitted in 1986 the first publication to cardiovascular system was made by conclude that Furchgott’s endothelium- Our article1 was written in the belief that Moncada and his group in Nature 2 in 1987. derived relaxing factor is nitric oxide Nature readers are aware that there are This paper provided the first direct and (Circulation Research5). several committees, but we are glad to unequivocal evidence for the hypothesis Although I do not want to quibble about clarify matters. The most troublesome that endothelium-derived relaxing factor the one month’s difference in submission aspect of the Nobel process is the (EDRF) might be nitric oxide or a related date between this and Moncada’s Nature apparently unchangeable fact that the substance. Moncada also showed that the paper2, which appeared in print before prizes are distributed according to the biosynthetic pathway for the generation of Ignarro’s paper, it is inaccurate to conclude terms of Nobel’s will, which states that the nitric oxide in the cardiovascular system that Ignarro’s findings came six months number of recipients in each category shall 3 was from the amino acid L-arginine . after Moncada had already made this be limited to three. We have received Without these two seminal papers the field conclusion, as stated in your report1. several letters protesting at the fact that of nitric-oxide research would not exist. Jack R. Lancaster Jr Moncada was not awarded a prize. In Moncada went on to make some of the Louisiana State University Medical Center, relation to Lancaster’s point, the most significant contributions to the field. 1901 Perdido St, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112, USA Circulation Research paper5 appeared in To distinguish earlier research, which December 1987, six months after can only be deemed part of this field with Sir — Your article describing this year’s Moncada’s paper in Nature 2. In that paper hindsight and in the light of Moncada’s prize in physiology or medicine starts “The Ignarro and colleagues tentatively work, without recognizing his work, is Nobel committee has once again sparked concluded that “EDRF from artery and tantamount to an attempt to rewrite the controversy... ”, as if there were one Nobel vein is either nitric oxide (NO) or a history of this discovery. committee1. There are, in fact, five chemically related radical species”. The We would like to believe that this is only committees, one for each prize — physics, earlier paper from Moncada’s group was the result of a regrettable mistake. We chemistry, physiology or medicine, also cautious in suggesting the identity of expect that the Nobel committee will repair literature, and peace. Another common EDRF and NO on the basis that the release the damage to its credibility. misunderstanding is that the prize for of NO was sufficient to account for the José Benjamín López Guillén, economics is not a Nobel prize, but is former substance’s biological activity. — Eduardo A. Espinoza Fiallos donated by the Bank of Sweden in memory Editor, Nature Universidad de El Salvador, Ciudad Universitaria, of Alfred Nobel. 1. Howlett, R. Nature 395, 625–626 (1998). Final 25 Avenida Norte, San Salvador, El Salvador The Nobel Foundation has nothing to do 2. Palmer, R. M. J., Ferrige, A. G. & Moncada, S. Nature 327, Ana Belén Castillo, Gustavo A. Vallejo with the selection process but just 524–526 (1987). Universidad Nacional de Honduras, 3. Palmer, R. M. J., Ashton, D. S. & Moncada, S. Nature 333, administers the funds. The prize-awarding 664–666 (1988). Ciudad Universitaria, Boulevard Suyapa, institutions and their committees are 4. Ignarro, L. J. et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 84, 9265–9269 (1987). Tegucigalpa, Honduras autonomous. They are the Swedish Academy 5. Ignarro, L. J. et al. Circ. Res. 61, 866–879 (1987).
evaluation; and none of the assessments of from any of the three medical faculties, Bitter pill to swallow over groups or institutes has led to any change in examinations can be repeated up to four their levels of funding. times, and there are few compulsory medical education Perhaps our authorities consider that lectures. Many teaching staff lack an MD external advice (after objective evaluation) qualification and do not know the basic Sir — Three years after a review committee is unnecessary. The failure to act upon the requirements of clinical work. Many evaluated biomedical research in Austria, previous committee’s recommendations students qualify — on average after nine another external expert committee has suggests that the latest report, a Dutch years — without having been trained to presented equally disastrous findings on the committee’s assessment of university solve even the simplest clinical problem. quality of Austrian medical training medical education in Austria, will be met Responsible European Union (Nature 377, 468; 1995 & 395, 832; 1998). with the same attitude of ‘intelligent committees must analyse this In 1995 a research evaluation committee neglect’. unsatisfactory situation because Austrian organized by the European Molecular As professors of pharmacology in doctors will be able to work freely in any Biology Organization strongly urged Austria, with considerable experience of other country of the union. certain improvements. No action was taken. teaching in other countries, we feel that the Hartmut H. Glossmann Indeed, the opposite of the recommended problems facing medical training in Austria Institute of Biochemical Pharmacology, changes has been achieved. Lifetime tenure and the consequences for other European University of Innsbruck, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria is now being granted automatically to all countries demand greater coverage. Bernhard A. Peskar assistant professors, who are required to Access to medical study is unlimited, Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology, teach; institutes are merged without examiners can be chosen freely by students University of Graz, 8010 Graz, Austria 614 Nature © Macmillan Publishers Ltd 1998 NATURE | VOL 396 | 17 DECEMBER 1998 | www.nature.com