2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for Autophagy
The word autophagy originates from Greek and means “self-eating”. The process of autophagy was first observed in the 1960’s, when researchers (De Duve) noted that cells were able to destroy their own components by sequestering them in double membrane sack-like structures named autophagosomes. These deliver cargo to a degradative compartment, called the lysosome. The brilliant studies of Yoshinori Ohsumi allowed the identification of the genes essential for autophagy and the underlying mechanism for this process in yeast. He also showed that this complex mechanism exists and is important in mammalian cells. Indeed, defective autophagy can be responsible for multiple diseases, such as cancer or neurological disorders.
2016 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for Contract Theory
The Prize Winners Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström have made important contributions to the economic theory of contracts. This theory has identified general principles that apply to seemingly unrelated topics such as labor contracts, banking regulation, insurance economics or make-or-buy decisions. It helps us to understand how trading partners can benefit from an appropriate design of their contractual relations, and what an appropriate design looks like. Conversely, the theory points to potential pitfalls in contractual design, which may be the source of economic inefficiency.