We thank Drs. Kracke and Olds for their comment regarding Daniel Bovet’s Nobel Prize in 1957 “for his discoveries relating to synthetic compounds that inhibit the action of certain body substances, and especially their action on the vascular system and the skeletal muscles.”1,2 We agree with the authors that Bovet’s prizewinning research was central to anesthesiology, although its interdisciplinary character also relates to other fields. The official web site of the Nobel Prize categorizes it as “neurobiology”3 ; however, no prizes are labeled “anesthesiology” on this web site. Interestingly enough, debates about disciplinary boundaries are not unusual in the Nobel Prize context. As a consequence of its outstanding reputation, the award is used as a parameter for international university rankings (for example in the Shanghai ranking) and as a marketing tool for scientific associations and societies (“claim to fame”), even if the link between the laureate and institution/association in question sometimes is quite vague. As hinted in Kracke and Olds’ letter, this is also true for some laureates and their medical field(s). Other examples are the Nobel prizes in physiology or medicine for Werner Forssmann (1956) for introducing heart catheterization and Charles B. Huggins (1966) for discoveries concerning hormonal treatment of prostatic cancer. Since both were trained as urologists, commentators have argued that they as laureates represent the field of urology. However, their prizewinning discoveries are perhaps more related to other fields, such as cardiology (Forssmann) and endocrinology (Huggins).4,5 Still, these discussions surrounding the Nobel Prize help us explore the cultural nature of celebration and commemoration in medicine and science.
The authors declare no competing interests.