Neuroscience, Cell Biology, and Genetics Collaborators Earn Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine

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Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young

Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young

Scientists recognized for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm

The Society for Neuroscience congratulates a trio of longtime scientific collaborators, Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young, who earned the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine, one of science’s most recognized and prestigious awards, by examining our biological clock and explaining its inner workings.

According to the press release from the Nobel Assembly: “Their discoveries explain how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronized with the Earth’s revolutions. Their interesting work is at the intersection of neuroscience, cell biology and genetics and a leading example of multidisciplinary approaches to big scientific questions.”

“Using fruit flies as a model organism, this year's Nobel laureates isolated a gene that controls the normal daily biological rhythm. They showed that this gene encodes a protein that accumulates in the cell during the night, and is then degraded during the day. Subsequently, they identified additional protein components of this machinery, exposing the mechanism governing the self-sustaining clockwork inside the cell. We now recognize that biological clocks function by the same principles in cells of other multicellular organisms, including humans.”

In 2009, Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael Young, collaborated to earn the Gruber Foundation Neuroscience Prize for revealing the gene-driven mechanism that controls rhythm in the nervous system. The prize was awarded at the SfN annual meeting, at which the trio presented a joint lecture on their work.  In a collaborative presentation, the three also delivered the Gruber lecture “Circadian rhythms, the Transcriptional Feedback Loop and Neuroscience” to an audience of a few thousand scientists. Their joint talk described some early work as well as the contemporary interface between neuroscience and circadian rhythm research.

Jeffrey C. Hall was born 1945 in New York. He received his doctoral degree in 1971 at the University of Washington in Seattle and was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena from 1971 to 1973. He joined the faculty at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., in 1974. From 2004 to 2012, he was an adjunct professor and a Libra Professor of Neurogenetics with the University of Maine.

Michael Rosbash, an SfN member, was born in 1944 in Kansas City, Mo. He received his doctoral degree in 1970 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. During the following three years, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Since 1974, he has been on faculty at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.

Michael W. Young was born in 1949 in Miami, Fla. He received his doctoral degree at the University of Texas in Austin in 1975. From 1975 to 1977, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. Since 1978, he has been on faculty at the Rockefeller University in New York.

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