Irish American Wins Nobel
Prize in Medicine
By Matthew Skwiat, Contributing Editor
December / January 2015
Irish-American scientist John O’Keefe was awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, sharing the award with Norwegian husband-and-wife researchers May Britt-Moser and Edward Moser. O’Keefe’s groundbreaking work on the brain has opened up a new way of viewing how the mind works. He discovered a positioning system of the brain or an “inner GPS” that makes it possible to map out our brains. Thanks to O’Keefe’s breakthrough, more research and breakthrough’s of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s is now possible.
O’Keefe was born in 1939 in New York to Irish immigrants from Co. Cork. He is currently a professor at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and the Department of Anatomy at University College London. Later this year he is set to receive an honorary doctorate from University College Cork.
The O’Keefe name seems to be a popular one in the science field. The late NASA scientist John O’Keefe was credited with the discovery of the earths “pear shape” after studying satellite data from the 1950s. Their work is a clear sign that Irish ingenuity continues to resonate all around the world and even in space. – M.S.