Harald zur Hausen of Germany was recognized for his discovery of human papilloma viruses that cause cervical cancer in women, the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm said Monday in a news release. He is to receive half of this year's award.
Francoise Barre-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier were honored for their discovery of human immunodeficiency virus, the virus that causes AIDS. They will split the other half.
Zur Hauzen's work on human papilloma viruses led to the description of the natural history of HPV infection, an understanding of how HPV-induced cancerous cells are produced and the development of vaccines, the organization said.
Barre-Sinoussi and Montagnier characterized the retrovirus as the first known human lentivirus based on its morphological, biochemical and immunological properties, the foundation said. The discovery was one prerequisite for the current understanding of the biology of the disease and its antiretroviral treatment.
The Nobel laureates will receive their awards in Stockholm in December. They will share a $1.4 million prize.