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Nobel Prizes 2008.

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Awarded…
Chemistry: Glowing Green
Encounters with jellyfish were fruitful
for Osamu Shimomura (Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA),
Martin Chalfie (Columbia University,
New York), and
Roger Y.
Tsien
(University of California, San Diego):
they received the
Nobel Prize in
Chemistry 2008 for
their work on green
fluorescent protein
(GFP). Shimomura
received his doctorO. Shimomura
ate
in
organic
chemistry
at
Nagoya University
under Y. Hirata in
1960. He was able
to isolate GFP
from a species of
jellyfish that occurs
on the west coast of
North America in
1962.[1a]
Chalfie,
who received his
PhD in neurobiology at Harvard
M. Chalfie
University in 1977,
was able to show that GFP is a suitable
genetic marker for the investigation of
8556
numerous biological
phenomena.
Tsien
completed
his doctoral degree
in physiology at the
University of Cambridge in 1977 and
later contributed
substantially to the
understanding of
GFP fluorescence.
R. Y. Tsien
He also extended
the range of available colors, so that proteins and cells can
be individually marked with color, thus
allowing multiple biological processes to
be followed simultaneously.
Green fluorescent proteins have
become universal tools for chemical,
biological, and medical analysis.[1b] For
example, R. Y. Tsien reported in ChemBioChem on water-soluble or membrane-permeant cyclic nucleotides for
one- and two-photon excitation.[1c] The
second edition of the book “Green
Fluorescent Protein”, edited by M.
Chalfie, was published by Wiley in
2005, with contributions from Shimomura and Tsien.[1d]
In issue 47/2008 of Angewandte
Chemie, a Highlight article by G. U.
Nienhaus[2] will appear that presents
the discovery and isolation of green
fluorescent protein, its structure, and
properties. The importance of this and
related proteins are also featured.
Physics: Symmetry Breaking and
the Consequences
One half of the prize for physics goes to
Yoichiro Nambu (University of Chicago) for his work on the mechanism
of spontaneous symmetry breaking in
subatomic particles, and the other half
goes to Makoto Kobayashi (the HighEnergy Accelerator in Tsukuba, Japan)
and Toshihide Maskawa (Kyoto University) for their discovery of the causes of
2008 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
symmetry breaking that led to the discovery of the existence of at least three
families of quarks. Symmetry breaking
also allows the universe to exist at all;
otherwise, matter and antimatter would
have completely annihilated each other.
Medicine: Cancer by Infection;
HIV
FranFoise BarrG-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier (Institut Pasteur) share one half
of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or
Medicine for their discovery of the
human immunodeficiency virus (HIV),
which causes acquired immunodeficiency, AIDS. The other half of the
prize was awarded to Harald zur Hausen (German Cancer Research Center,
Heidelberg) for his realization that
cancer can also be caused by infections.
He recently described his lifeIs work in a
highly instructive monograph.[3] Zur
Hausen is Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Cancer.
The prizes carry a value of approximately one million euros per discipline.
Photos: UCSD (RYT), E. Barroso
(MC).
[1] a) O. Shimomura, F. H. Johnson, Y. Saiga,
J. Cell. Comp. Physiol. 1962, 59, 223;
b) J. A. Schmid, H. Neumeier, ChemBioChem 2005, 6, 1149; c) T. Furuta, H.
Takeuchi, M. Isozaki, Y. Takahashi, M.
Kanehara, M. Sugimoto, T. Watanabe, K.
Noguchi, T. M. Dore, T. Kurahashi, M.
Iwamura, R. Y. Tsien, ChemBioChem
2004, 5, 1119; d) M. Chalfie, S. R. Kain,
Green Fluorescent Protein, Wiley, Hoboken, 2005.
[2] G. U. Nienhaus, Angew. Chem. 2008, 120,
DOI: 10.1002/ange.200804998; Angew.
Chem. Int. Ed. 2008, 47, DOI: 10.1002/
anie.200804998.
[3] H. zur Hausen, Infections Causing
Human Cancer, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim,
2006.
DOI: 10.1002/anie.200804933
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2008, 47, 8556
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