Three scientists working at three different American universities have been jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine, kicking off a week of honors for new laureates around the world.
The three recipients are James E. Rothman, chairman of the Cell Biology department at Yale University; Randy W. Schekman, a professor of Molecular and Cell biology at UC-Berkeley; and Thomas Südhof, a German-born doctor who works at Stanford University. The men are being honored together for a collection of independent, but related breakthroughs in "vesicle traffic" that "solved the mystery of how the cell organizes its transport system."
The three Nobel Laureates have discovered a fundamental process in cell physiology. These discoveries have had a major impact on our understanding of how cargo is delivered with timing and precision within and outside the cell. Vesicle transport and fusion operate, with the same general principles, in organisms as different as yeast and man. The system is critical for a variety of physiological processes in which vesicle fusion must be controlled, ranging from signalling in the brain to release of hormones and immune cytokines. Defective vesicle transport occurs in a variety of diseases including a number of neurological and immunological disorders, as well as in diabetes. Without this wonderfully precise organization, the cell would lapse into chaos.
In addition to the interconnected nature of their research, all three winners also have a connection to Stanford University. Südhof is a current professor there, but Rothman and Schekman both did post-doctoral research in the same department at the Palo Alto campus.
This is just the first day of what will be a busy week for the folks in Stockholm. A different 2013 Nobel Prize winner will be announced each day this week, culminating with the Peace Prize on Friday morning. (The Economic Sciences prize winner will be named on Monday.) In addition to the shiny medal, each prize winner also gets (or shares) 8 million Swedish kornor, which is worth about $1.2 million USD.
Here's the schedule for the rest of the week. You can watch the announcements live at Nobelprize.org.
Monday, October 7
Physiology or Medicine: James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman, and Thomas C. Südhof
Tuesday, October 8
Physics: 11:45 a.m. CET at the earliest (5:45 a.m. EDT)
Wednesday, October 9
Chemistry: 11:45 a.m. CET at the earliest (5:45 a.m. EDT)
Thursday, October 10
Literature: 1.00 p.m. CET (7:00 a.m. EDT)
Friday, October 11
Peace: 11:00 a.m. CET (7:00 a.m. EDT)
Monday, October 14
Economic Sciences: 1:00 p.m. CET at the earliest (7:00 a.m. EDT)