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U.S. News

FACTBOX: Nobel Prize winners in 2009

(Reuters) - The 2009 Nobel season ended on Monday with the announcement of the winner of the prize for Economics.

Here is a summary of this year’s laureates:

* ECONOMICS:

-- Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson won the 2009 Nobel prize for economics on Monday for their work in economic governance. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the award recognized Ostrom for showing how common property can be managed by user associations and Williamson for a theory on corporate conflict resolution.

-- Ostrom became the first woman to win the economics prize, which was established in 1968. The other Nobel awards, for achievements in sciences, literature and peace, were set out in dynamite tycoon Alfred Nobel’s will in 1895.

* PEACE:

-- Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in a stunning decision that honored the first-year U.S. president more for promise than achievement and drew both praise and skepticism around the world.

-- Describing himself as surprised and deeply humbled, Obama said he would accept the award as a “call to action” to confront the global challenges of the 21st century.

* LITERATURE: -- Romanian-born German writer Herta Mueller won the literature prize, saying Nicolae Ceausescu’s brutal dictatorship compelled her to write of how a powerful few can dominate and destroy a nation. The Swedish Academy paid tribute to Mueller “who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed.”

* CHEMISTRY:

-- Ada Yonath, an Israeli, and Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas Steitz, both Americans, shared the chemistry prize for showing how the ribosome, a kind of protein factory, translates the genetic code of DNA into proteins that do the work inside cells. “As ribosomes are crucial to life, they are also a major target for new antibiotics,” the Nobel Committee said.

* PHYSICS:

-- Charles Kao, a Shanghai-born British-American, won half the physics prize for a discovery that led to a breakthrough in fiber optics, determining how to transmit light over long distances via optical glass fibers.

-- Willard Boyle, a Canadian-American, and George Smith of the United States shared the other half for inventing the first successful imaging technology using a digital sensor.

* PHYSIOLOGY OR MEDICINE:

-- Australian-born Elizabeth Blackburn, British-born Jack Szostak and Carol Greider won the prize for medicine for revealing the existence and nature of telomerase, an enzyme that helps prevent the fraying of chromosomes that underlies aging and cancer.

-- Work on the enzyme has become a hot area of drug research, particularly in cancer, as it is thought to play a key role in allowing tumor cells to reproduce out of control. Sources: Reuters/nobelprize.org

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