The 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine: Basics Explained

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 2023 has been awarded to Katalin Kariko, and Drew Weissman for their discoveries concerning nucleoside base modifications that enabled the development of effective mRNA vaccines against Covid-19.

The 2022 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded to Svante Pääbo for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution.


(1833-1896), the inventor of dynamite and holder of 355 patents,established the Nobel Prizes “for the Greatest Benefit to Mankind”. The foundations for the prize were laid in 1895 when Alfred Nobel wrote his last will, leaving much of his wealth to the establishment of the Nobel Prize. The first Nobel Prizes were awarded in 1901, five years after Nobel’s death. Since
1901, the Nobel Prize has been honoring men and women from all corners of the globe for outstanding achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and for work in peace. In 1969,  another prize was added “The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic
 in Memory of Alfred Nobel”. The Prize includes a Nobel diploma, a medal, and 10 million Swedish crowns per prize. All Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, except for the Nobel Peace Prize, which is awarded in Oslo, Norway. Norway and Sweden are 
situated in Scandinavia, northern Europe. Oslo is the capital of Norway and Stockholm is the capital of Sweden.





Full Name

Deoxyribonucleic Acid 

Ribonucleic Acid


DNA replicates and stores genetic information. It is a blueprint for all genetic information contained within an organism

RNA converts the genetic information contained within DNA to a format used to build proteins, and then moves it to ribosomal protein factories. 


DNA consists of two strands, arranged in a double helix. These strands are made up of subunits called nucleotides. Each nucleotide contains a phosphate, a 5-carbon sugar molecule and a nitrogenous

RNA only has one strand, but like DNA, is made up of nucleotides. RNA strands are shorter than DNA strands. RNA sometimes forms a secondary double helix structure, but only intermittently. 


DNA is a much longer polymer than RNA. A chromosome, for example, is a single, long DNA molecule, which would be several centimetres in length when unravelled.

RNA molecules are variable in length, but much shorter than long DNA polymers. A large RNA molecule might only be a few thousand base pairs long. 


The sugar in DNA is deoxyribose, which contains one less hydroxyl group than RNA’s ribose. 

RNA contains ribose sugar molecules, without the hydroxyl modifications of deoxyribose.


The bases in DNA are Adenine (‘A’), Thymine (‘T’), Guanine (‘G’) and Cytosine (‘C’).

RNA shares Adenine (‘A’), Guanine (‘G’) and Cytosine
(‘C’) with DNA, but contains Uracil (‘U’) rather than Thymine.

Base Pairs

Adenine and Thymine pair (A-T) Cytosine and Guanine pair (C-G)  

Adenine and Uracil pair (A-U)
Cytosine and Guanine pair (C-G)


DNA is found in the nucleus, with a small amount of DNA
also present in mitochondria.

RNA forms in the nucleolus, and then moves to
specialised regions of the cytoplasm depending on the type of RNA


Due to its deoxyribose sugar, which contains one less oxygen-containing hydroxyl group, DNA is a more stable molecule than RNA, which is useful for a molecule which has the task of keeping genetic information safe.

RNA, containing a ribose sugar, is more reactive than
DNA and is not stable in alkaline conditions. RNA’s larger helical grooves
mean it is more easily subject to attack by enzymes.


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