Nobel Prizes 2014 – Announcement Date Monday Oct 6

The Nobel Prizes: What you should know ahead of time

By: Ben P. Stein, Director, Inside Science

It’s actually quite remarkable how well the Nobel committees keep the prizes and recipients secret until the announcements. (Update: In the earlier version of this blog, I wrote we were unaware of any leaks of prize information prior to the official announcements. But I have now found that Time had reported one for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize shortly before it was announced. And bookmakers reported an abrupt increase in the odds for poet Tomas Tranströmer to win shortly before he was named the recipient of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature, according to Sweden’s The Local newspaper; Swedish authorities investigated the matter and eventually came to no conclusions, according to the Wall Street Journal. Nonetheless, the Nobel committees’ overall track record seems excellent for keeping the prize information under wraps.)

The Nobel committees contact the often bleary-eyed recipients in the very early morning before announcing the prizes. Last year’s physics announcement was delayed because of the committee’s difficulty in reaching recipient Peter Higgs. He was traveling and doesn’t own a cellphone. For the 2012 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, one of the recipients, Ralph Steinman, died the Friday before the prize was announced, unbeknownst to the Nobel committee. Nobel Prizes can only be given to living individuals, based on the conditions set forth by the Nobel Foundation. But in my opinion, the Nobel committee did the right thing in 2011 and kept Steinman as the recipient even though he was deceased.

Read more at the Inside Science blog.



Structural Biology Lecture Series: Venki Ramakrishnan Ph.D. Wed Sept 28 2011

Structural Biology Lecture Series

The Structural Basis of Decoding by the Ribosome

Dr. Venki Ramakrishnan

2009 Nobelist

Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology

Wednesday September 28, 11 am, Caspary Hall

Recommended Readings:

Voorhees RM; Schmeing TM; Kelley AC; Ramakrishnan V. 2010. The mechanism for activation of GTP hydrolysis on the ribosome. Science 330:835-838.

Schmeing TM; Voorhees RM; Kelley AC; et al.  2009. The crystal structure of the ribosome bound to EF-Tu and aminoacyl-tRNA.  Science  326(5953):688-694.

Gao Y-G; Selmer M; Dunham CM; Weixlbaumer A; Kelley AC; Ramakrishnan V. 2009. The structure of the ribosome with elongation factor G trapped in the posttranslocational state. Science 326:694-699.

Weixlbaumer A; Hong J; Neubauer C; Voorhees RM; Sabine P; Kelley AC; Ramakrishnan V. 2008. Insights into translational termination from the structure of RF2 bound to the ribosome. Science 322:953-956.

Selmer M; Duham CM; Murphy FV; Weixlbaumer A; Sabine P; Kelley AC; Weir JR; Ramakrishnan V. 2006. Science 313:1935-1942.

Petry S; Brodeson DE; Murphy FV; et al.  2005.  Crystal structures of the ribosome in complex with release factors RF1 and RF2 bound to a cognate stop codon.  Cell  123(7):1255-1266.

Ogle, JM; Murphy FV; Tarry MJ; et al.  2002. Selection of tRNA by the ribosome requires a transition from an open to a closed form.  Cell  111(5):721-732.

Wimberly BT; Brodeson DE; Clemons WM; et al.  Structure of the ribosomal subunit. 2000. NATURE   407(6802): 327-339.

Carter AP; Clemons WM; Broderson DE; et al.  2000.  Functional insights from the structure of the 30S ribosomal subunit and its interactions with antibiotics.  NATURE  407(6802):340-348.

Death of New York Nobel Laureate: Rosalyn Yalow

Rosalyn Yalow, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine, has died, reports The New York Times. She was 89. At a time when women were discouraged from entering the science, Yalow received her doctorate in nuclear physics and then taught at Hunter College in New York City; she could not get a research position, the Times adds. She then moved to the Bronx Veterans Administration Hospital and began working with Solomon Berson. Together, they developed radioimmunoassays, and found that antibodies could recognize molecules as small as insulin, a finding that was regarded with skepticism. For this work developing radioummunassays, Yalow was the second woman to win the Nobel in medicine. “We are witnessing the birth of a new era of endocrinology, one that started with Yalow,” said the Karolinska Institute in Sweden upon awarding her the Nobel.

Native New Yorker and Nobelist, Baruch Blumberg Dies at Age 85

Baruch Blumberg, who won the 1976 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, has died. He was attending a conference at the Ames Research Center when he suffered a heart attack.  He was 85. Blumberg won the Nobel for his work to help identify the hepatitis B virus. In the 1960s, Blumberg found a protein in the blood of Australian aboriginals who developed jaundice after receiving a blood transfusion, and he named the protein the Australia antigen — the antigen turned out to be a surface antigen of the hepatitis B virus. 

Born in New York in 1925 and a graduate of Far Rockaway High School, Dr. Blumberg attended Union College in upstate New York and Columbia medical school.   He is also well known for his work establishing the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

Scientific American’s Observations Blog Publishes Reuters Nobel Predictions

Check out Scientific American’s blog site announcement of September 21 for Thomson Reuter’s “short list” of contenders for this year’s Nobel prizes.  The Nobel’s are expected to be announced next month.   Both Jeffrey Friedman and Ralph Steinman are on Reuter’s list for the prize in Physiology or Medicine.    Dr. Friedman was recently announced as one of this year’s co-winners of the Lasker Award.

2009 Nobel Prize for Medicine Goes to Three Americans

For the first time two women are among the awardees for the prize in medicine.   The winners are Elizabeth H.  Blackburn, Carol W. Greider, and Jack W. Szostak for their work on the mechanism of telomere preservation in cell division.  Drs. Blackburn and Greider discovered telomerase and the process by which it rebuilds the tips of chromosomes.   Blackburn is at University of California,  San Francisco, and Geider at Johns Hopkins.   Szostak, an HHMI researcher, is at Harvard Medical School.   He  collaborated with Balckburn and Greider investigating questions of how the ends of chromosomes are maintained.

2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP

GFP consists of 238 amino acids and this chain folds up into the shape of an aluminum beverage can.  Inside the can-like structure, amino acids 65, 66, 67 for the chemical group that obsorbs UV and blue light, and fluoresces green.  (Credit: Image courtesy of Nobel Foundation)
GFP consist of 238 amino acids and this chain folds up into the shape of an aluminum beverage can. Inside the can-like structure, amino acids 65, 66, 67 form the chemical group that absorbs UV and blue light, and fluoresces green. (Credit: Image courtesy of Nobel Foundation)

 The 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was jointly awarded to Osamu Shimomura (Marine Biological Laboratory and Boston University Medical School), Martin Chalfie (Columbia University), and Roger Y. Tsien (University of California, San Diego).  Green fluorescent protein (GFP) was first observed in the jellyfish Aequorea victoria in 1962.  Further important developments led to the use of GFP as a tagging tool which, once bound to a protein of interest, can permit detailed studies of a number of biological interactions.

Shimomura first isolated the protein and discovered that it glowed bright green under ultraviolet light.  Chalfie demonstrated that GFP was valuable as a luminous genetic tag in his early studies of GFP in Caenorhabditis elegans.  Tsien studied how GFP fluoresces and extended the color palette to give various proteins and cells different colors. 

(Excerpts from ScienceDaily, October 8, 2008)