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Vol. LXV, No. 23
November 8, 2013

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NIH Grantees Win 2013 Nobel Prizes in Medicine, Chemistry

Six NIH extramural grantees have been awarded the 2013 Nobel Prizes in physiology or medicine and chemistry. Two will give lectures at NIH later this month.

“For their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells,” said the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute, the Nobel Prize in Medicine 2013 has been awarded jointly to James E. Rothman of Yale University; Randy W. Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley; and Thomas C. Südhof of Stanford University School of Medicine.

Their work revealed how cells use small sacs, called vesicles, to import and export materials to and from cells. This transport system is a fundamental process in how cells work.

“Without this wonderfully precise organization,” said the Nobel Assembly, “the cell would lapse into chaos.”

NIH has supported Rothman’s work from 1978 to 2013 with more than $41.8 million in total funding from 7 ICs: NIGMS, NIAMS, NIDDK, NCI, NHGRI, NIMH and NINDS.

From 1979 to 2005, Schekman was awarded more than $5.2 million in NIGMS funding support. He is also affiliated with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Südhof’s work garnered NIH support from 1969 to 2013 with over $15.6 million in grants from NIMH, NINDS and NHLBI. He too is affiliated with Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The 2013 Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded jointly to NIH grantees Martin Karplus of Harvard University, Michael Levitt of Stanford University School of Medicine; and Arieh Warshel of the University of Southern California for the development of powerful multiscale computer models used to understand and predict chemical processes.

“The work of Karplus, Levitt and Warshel is groundbreaking,” said the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, “in that they managed to make Newton’s classical physics work side-by-side with the fundamentally different quantum physics.”

NIH began supporting Karplus in 1970 and has provided more than $6.6 million in support from NEI and NIGMS. Karplus, professor of chemistry emeritus at Harvard University, is also affiliated with the Université de Strasbourg in France.

Since 1969, Levitt has received more than $25.8 million in support from NEI, NIGMS, NIAMS and NIDDK. He will lecture at NIH on Nov. 18 at 4 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10, on the topic “The Birth and Future of Computational Structural Biology.”

Warshel received more than $11.4 million in support from 1976 to 2013 from NEI, NIGMS and NCI. He will speak Nov. 20 at 1 p.m. in Masur on “Computer Simulations of Biological Functions.”

NIH has granted a total of more than $108 million to the six scientists.

Dr. James E. Rothman Dr. Randy W. Schekman Dr. Thomas C. Südhof
Photo: Harold Shapiro/Yale   Photo: L.A. Cicero
Winning the 2013 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine were NIH grantees (from l) Dr. James E. Rothman, Dr. Randy W. Schekman and Dr. Thomas C. Südhof.
Dr. Martin Karplus Dr. Michael Levitt Dr. Arieh Warshel
Photo: Emmanuel Nguyen Ngoc Photo: L.A. Cicero Photo: Gus Ruelas/USC
Winning the 2013 Nobel Prize in chemistry were NIH grantees (from l) Dr. Martin Karplus, Dr. Michael Levitt and Dr. Arieh Warshel.


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