Three US scientists win Nobel Prize in Medicine

Nobel 2017

A clock ticks in almost every cell of the human body, as well as in plants, animals and fungi.

"The paradigm-shifting discoveries by the laureates established key mechanisms for the biological clock", the Nobel Assembly said in its prize statement.

Three US scientists Jeffery Hall, Michael Young and Michael Rosbash won the 2017 Nobel prize for medicine.

"Michael Rosbash and Jeffrey C. Hall represent the innovation and collaboration that Brandeis has been known for since its founding", said Brandeis University President Ron Liebowitz.

So wrote USA geneticist Michael Rosbash this year in a memoir titled 'A 50-Year Personal Journey: Location, Gene Expression, and Circadian Rhythms'.

The Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to three researchers for discovering how our biological clock actually works. Subsequently, they identified additional protein components of this machinery, exposing the mechanism governing the self-sustaining clockwork inside the cell.

All life on Earth has evolved on a planet that spins on its axis once every 24 hours.


The scientists have revealed molecular systems that control these body clocks (circadian rhythm). Scientist Jeffrey Hall of the University of ME, collaborated with Rosbash when they were both faculties at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Circadian rhythms adapt a person's physiology to different phases of the day, influencing sleep, behaviour, hormone levels, body temperature and metabolism.

The trio will share the prize sum of nine million Swedish kronor (about United States dollars 1.1 million or 937,000 euros). Misalignments in this clock may result in medical conditions and disorders, as well as the temporary disorientation of jet lag that travelers experience when crisscrossing time zones.

In the 1970s, Seymour Benzer and Ronald Konopka found that in an as-yet unknown gene was responsible for regulating the body clock of fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster).

In 1994 Young discovered a second clock gene, which he named "timeless", that helps control the period gene's activity.

Studying fruit flies, the team found that period encodes for a protein called PER, which accumulates overnight and gradually degrades during the day.

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