Nobel Prize nominees and the rise of urology in Europe around 1900



Recent historical research has reconstructed the roads leading to the Nobel Prize for the trained urologists Werner Forssmann (1904–1979) in 1956 and Charles Huggins (1901–1997) in 1966. However, the story of urology and the Nobel Prize does not start and end with the laureates. Taking James Israel (1848–1926), Félix Guyon (1831–1920), and Peter J Freyer (1852–1921) as examples, this paper shows that pioneers in urology were in fact runners-up for the award much earlier.


The study is based on an analysis of original files in the Nobel Prize archive in Stockholm, scientific publications of the early twentieth century, and secondary literature.

Result and conclusion

We argue that Israel’s, Guyon’s, and Freyer’s candidacies reflect not only scientific trends and controversies in urology at the turn of twentieth century, but that the development of the specialty itself was reflected in nominations of physicians working on problems of the genito-urinary system.

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Files in the Nobel archive were kindly provided by the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine, Medicinska Nobelinstitutet, Nobels Väg 1, Solna, Sweden. Translation of archival sources from German and French into English was done by the authors.

Author’s contribution

NH collected the archival sources. NH, MK, TH, FM, and HF contributed to project development, analysis, and writing and editing of the paper.

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Correspondence to Nils Hansson.

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Hansson, N., Krischel, M., Halling, T. et al. Nobel Prize nominees and the rise of urology in Europe around 1900. World J Urol 35, 1291–1295 (2017).

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  • History of medicine
  • Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine
  • Urology
  • Surgery
  • Medical specialization
  • James Israel
  • Félix Guyon
  • Peter J Freyer