The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Monday, October 06, 2008

Nobel Prize for Medicine 2008

The Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine is, traditionally, the first of the Nobel Prizes to be awarded. Now, I must be getting old because it doesn't seem so long ago that the last Nobel Prizes were awarded...oh well.

Anyway, this year the Nobel Committee have decided to recognize the discoverers of the viral causes of two diseases: cervical cancer and AIDS (it is strange to think that it has taken SO long to recognize those who discovered the viral cause of AIDS considering how many tens of millions have died since that discovery decades ago).

The award has been divided into two halves: half going to Harald zur Hausen for his discovery that human papilloma viruses (HPV) cause cervical cancer and the other half going to Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier for their discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), that causes AIDS.

Zur Hausen (born in 1936) works at the German Cancer Research Centre Heidelberg. Barré-Sinoussi (born in 1947) is employed by the Regulation of Retroviral Infections Unit, Virology Department, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France and Luc Montagnier (born in 1932) is at the World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention also in Paris.

It is interesting to contrast the advance of medicine in these two diseases since the discovery of their viral causes. Zur Hausen's discovery has since led to vaccines that completely prevent infection by HPV if given before exposure, to young girls. This means the eradication of cervical cancer as a cause of disease and death in girls so vaccinated. So, his work has heralded a great health victory.

On the other hand, Barre-Sinoussi and Montagnier's work has not led to the conquering of AIDS. It has led to its long term management through anti-retrovirals - which is a half-victory, I suppose - but it has not led to its eradication. Yet, without the discovery of the virus by the duo, it is unlikely that AIDS treatment would even have got this far.

Looking at this way, it is clear that the long delay in awarding Nobel Prizes (and it is long...these figures were young men when they made their discoveries - and they are now old men), allows the discoveries to be evaluated in the light of their later importance. We come to see the impact of their work, before the prizes are awarded. I suppose this is a means by which the Nobel Committee become sure of their choices. Personally, however, I wish that prizes were awarded sooner, for then they would have greater impact on the outcome of the work that follows and would have a more positive real world impact on the work, itself (by enabling the researchers better access to resources and so on, owing to their Nobel reputations etc.)

Nevertheless congratulations to all three winners of the Nobel Prize for Medicine this year. Many millions of people owe their health to the, until now, relatively unknown work of these scientific adventurers.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

We are the founders of Genghis Can, a copywriting, editing and proofreading agency, that handles all kinds of work, including technical and scientific material. If you need such services, or know someone who does, please go to: Thanks.)

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 7:12 PM 


Post a Comment

<< Home

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape