An announcement came from Stockholm this morning that three esteemed professors representing Yale University, the University of California at Berkeley, and Stanford University have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. Yale professor James Rothman, born in 1947, a professor of biomedical sciences at Yale University and Chairman of the Department of Cell Biology, along with University of California Professor of molecular and cell biology Randy Schekman, 64, and Germany’s Thomas Suedhof, 57, have won the Nobel Prize for their research into how cells deliver substances (such as insulin) at the necessary time and to the specific area where they are needed within and outside the cell.
Schekman utilized yeast in his studies to identify the process by which such substances are transported in sacs calls vesicles. Rothman made important findings as to how proteins dock with their target membranes – “like two sides of a zipper.” Suedhof’s winning research and study pertained to understanding how vesicles (a vesicle is described as a small bubble within a cell enclosed by a lipid bi-layer) release their cargo with precision. Schekman said, according to a source at Berkeley, “My first reaction was, “Oh, my God!…That was also my second reaction.”
The Nobel Prize, which includes a monetary award of about $1.2M, was originated by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, and the prizes have been granted by award committees in Stockholm and Oslo since 1901. Winners receive their awards on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel’s death in 1896.
The Nobel committee at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute said the research “deepened understanding of how disruptions in the transport of cells contribute to neurological diseases, diabetes and immunological disorders. Through their discoveries, Rothman, Schekman and Suedhof have revealed the exquisitely precise control system for the transport and delivery of cellular cargo.”
More information on this vital area of cell research can be found at this link.