Norwegian Nobel Prize Physiology or Medicine

Eystein Husebye6 October came with the news that May-Britt and Edvard Moser together with the British neuroscientist John O’Keefe were this year’s winners of the Nobel Price in Physiology or Medicine, a fantastic achievement. The UiB newsletter “På Høyden” comments in an article 8 October that it is not only the researchers themselves that have been focused in their work, the research leaders at NTNU, The Norwegian Research Council of Norway and the Ministry of Education and Research, and The Kavli Foundation have all pulled in the same direction, providing close to 600 million Norwegian kroners to the Moser group until now.

However, the success is not only about funding. A good framework and research-promoting environment is also paramount. One of the factors that professor May-Britt Moser mentions is mobility and temporary positions. She asks: Would the Norwegian football team Rosenborg have had so much success if every player had a permantent employment? The best research groups have a lot of mobility – people come and go; only the very best stay on and built their own groups. Her conclusion is that Norway needs to apply the American tenure track system. Young talents should have a 5-7 year period to qualify for a permanent position, and not everybody will succeed.

The minister of Education and Research now invites our Universities to a dialogue on how to improve Norwegian research. We have the chance to argue for increased mobility and how to foster an environment that can create new success stories such as the Moser’s have. It is therefore my hope that it will not take 113 years before the next Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded to a Norwegian researcher working in Norway.

Eystein Husebye

Acting Head of Department

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