(RxWiki News) The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded on Monday to three scientists for their work in looking at how the cell organizes its transportation system.
The human body is a complex organism (living thing) made up of cells. Many cells — the smallest unit of an organism — produce molecules or proteins for use in other necessary locations in the body.
The Nobel Prize winning researchers have discovered how the cells in our bodies are able to make sure that the molecules produced by cells get to the right place at the right time. This information can be very helpful in understanding how diseases like diabetes occur. This understanding may eventually lead to better treatment for such diseases.
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The three scientists awarded the Nobel Prize — James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman and Thomas C. Südhof — are all US-based research scientists.
James E. Rothman is from Haverhill, Massachusetts. He received his doctoral degree from Harvard Medical School in 1976 and received postdoctoral training from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After completing his studies, he worked at Stanford University. He is also affiliated with Princeton University, Columbia University and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Dr. Rothman is currently a professor and Chairman in the Department of Cell Biology at Yale University. His research focuses on identifying how molecules are carried from cells to reach their target destination.
Dr. Rothman has identified how proteins are involved in ensuring that molecules reach their target destination through a specific binding process. Some of the proteins Dr. Rothman identified when conducting his research in yeast were also found in mammals. This has helped identify the evolutionary origin of the proteins involved in the cell's transportation system.
Randy W. Schekman is from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He received his doctoral training from the University of California, Los Angeles and Stanford Universty. After receiving his degree in 1974, Dr. Schekman became a faculty member at the University of California at Berkeley, where he is currently a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and serves as a professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology.
Dr. Schekman's research focuses on identifying the genes that make up the cell's transportation system. He has identified three classes of genes involved in this system that each control different parts of the system.
Thomas C. Südhof is from Göttingen, Germany. He received his medical degree and doctoral degree from Georg-August-Universität in Göttingen in 1982. After receiving his degree, he got postdoctoral training from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.
Dr. Südhof is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University. His research focuses on how nerve cells communicate with each other in the brain. He found that molecules respond to changes in the concentration of calcium which then acts as a signal to neighboring proteins to bind to the appropriate nerve cell.
Several neurological and immunological diseases occur when something goes wrong with a cell's transportation system and molecules are not delivered to the right location at the right time. Gaining a better understanding of how this process works can be helpful in finding ways to fix this problem and ultimately treat these diseases.
For more information on the Nobel Prize winners and their research, visit the Nobel Prize website.