Member News

Young wins Nobel Prize
in medicine or physiology

John Arnst
November 01, 2017

Michael W. Young at the Rockefeller University and Michael Rosbash and Jeffrey C. Hall at Brandeis University have won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling circadian rhythm.

The oscillations of the circadian rhythm are responsible for the regular, daily functioning of countless biological processes, including sleep, metabolism, hormone regulation and body temperature. By exploring the process in fruit flies, the Nobel laureates isolated the gene that drives the oscillations by encoding a protein that accumulates in cells during the day and is degraded at night. This daily cycle, by which cellular clockwork is coupled to the Earth’s, has since been observed in plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria.

Michael W. Young

The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, which issues the prize, in a press release noted that “the seminal discoveries by Hall, Rosbash and Young have revealed a crucial physiological mechanism explaining circadian adaptation, with important implications for human health and disease.”

Young, a member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the National Academy of Sciences, earned his B.A. in biology in 1971 and his Ph.D. in genetics in 1975 at the University of Texas at Austin. He followed that up with a postdoc at Stanford University. He has been a faculty member at Rockefeller since 1978.

Young will share one-third of the $1.1 million prize with Rosbash and Hall.

“In 1930, George and Ira Gershwin published their famous jazz song, ‘I Got Rhythm.’ Well, it turns out, we all got rhythm. Even the simple fruit fly got rhythm. And, amazingly, it’s the same rhythm,” says Gregory A. Petsko, an endowed professor at Weill Cornell Medical College and professor emeritus at Brandeis.

Petsko continued: “(Circadian rhythm) explains why we sleep when we do and why we feel wiped out when we take a long airplane trip across many time zones. It is one of the most fundamental processes in all higher organisms. (T)hanks to the laureates, we now know the words and lyrics — i.e, the mechanism — of that rhythm as well as we do that of the Gershwins.”

 
John Arnst

John Arnst is a science writer for ASBMB Today.

Join the ASBMB Today mailing list

Sign up to get updates on articles, interviews and events.

Latest in People

People highlights or most popular articles

Glycobiology society honors; NAI inducts Batzer; inspiring Latinx scientists
Member News

Glycobiology society honors; NAI inducts Batzer; inspiring Latinx scientists

September 28, 2020

Honors, promotions, milestones and more. Find out what's going on in the lives of ASBMB members.

Herbert Tabor 1918 – 2020
Retrospective

Herbert Tabor 1918 – 2020

September 24, 2020

F. Peter Guengerich remembers the contributions of the longtime editor of the Journal of Biological Chemistry who died in August.

ASBMB welcomes new members
Member News

ASBMB welcomes new members

September 21, 2020

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular biology welcomed more than 60 new members in April.

It all comes down to where we place our bets
Interview

It all comes down to where we place our bets

September 18, 2020

Mark Harpel works in a research unit at GlaxoSmithKline that helps choose the most promising targets for new drug development.

Understanding the impact of Type 1 diabetes susceptibility genes
Research Spotlight

Understanding the impact of Type 1 diabetes susceptibility genes

September 17, 2020

Starting in eighth grade, a series of mentors who saw something special in Sharifa Love–Rutledge helped her stay on the path to being a researcher — and becoming a mentor to others.

Cell biology, microbiology societies present awards
Member News

Cell biology, microbiology societies present awards

September 14, 2020

Honorees include ASBMB members Joann Trejo, James Olzmann, Steven Farber, Sue Wickner and Bernard Moss.