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The Human Genome Gets Fully Sequenced: A Simplistic Take on Century Long Effort

 

Curator: Stephen J. Williams, PhD

Ever since the hard work by Rosalind Franklin to deduce structures of DNA and the coincidental work by Francis Crick and James Watson who modeled the basic building blocks of DNA, DNA has been considered as the basic unit of heredity and life, with the “Central Dogma” (DNA to RNA to Protein) at its core.  These were the discoveries in the early twentieth century, and helped drive the transformational shift of biological experimentation, from protein isolation and characterization to cloning protein-encoding genes to characterizing how the genes are expressed temporally, spatially, and contextually.

Rosalind Franklin, who’s crystolagraphic data led to determination of DNA structure. Shown as 1953 Time cover as Time person of the Year

Dr Francis Crick and James Watson in front of their model structure of DNA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up to this point (1970s-mid 80s) , it was felt that genetic information was rather static, and the goal was still to understand and characterize protein structure and function while an understanding of the underlying genetic information was more important for efforts like linkage analysis of genetic defects and tools for the rapidly developing field of molecular biology.  But the development of the aforementioned molecular biology tools including DNA cloning, sequencing and synthesis, gave scientists the idea that a whole recording of the human genome might be possible and worth the effort.

How the Human Genome Project  Expanded our View of Genes Genetic Material and Biological Processes

 

 

From the Human Genome Project Information Archive

Source:  https://web.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/project/hgp.shtml

History of the Human Genome Project

The Human Genome Project (HGP) refers to the international 13-year effort, formally begun in October 1990 and completed in 2003, to discover all the estimated 20,000-25,000 human genes and make them accessible for further biological study. Another project goal was to determine the complete sequence of the 3 billion DNA subunits (bases in the human genome). As part of the HGP, parallel studies were carried out on selected model organisms such as the bacterium E. coli and the mouse to help develop the technology and interpret human gene function. The DOE Human Genome Program and the NIH National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) together sponsored the U.S. Human Genome Project.

 

Please see the following for goals, timelines, and funding for this project

 

History of the Project

It is interesting to note that multiple government legislation is credited for the funding of such a massive project including

Project Enabling Legislation

  • The Atomic Energy Act of 1946 (P.L. 79-585) provided the initial charter for a comprehensive program of research and development related to the utilization of fissionable and radioactive materials for medical, biological, and health purposes.
  • The Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (P.L. 83-706) further authorized the AEC “to conduct research on the biologic effects of ionizing radiation.”
  • The Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-438) provided that responsibilities of the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA) shall include “engaging in and supporting environmental, biomedical, physical, and safety research related to the development of energy resources and utilization technologies.”
  • The Federal Non-nuclear Energy Research and Development Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-577) authorized ERDA to conduct a comprehensive non-nuclear energy research, development, and demonstration program to include the environmental and social consequences of the various technologies.
  • The DOE Organization Act of 1977 (P.L. 95-91) mandated the Department “to assure incorporation of national environmental protection goals in the formulation and implementation of energy programs; and to advance the goal of restoring, protecting, and enhancing environmental quality, and assuring public health and safety,” and to conduct “a comprehensive program of research and development on the environmental effects of energy technology and program.”

It should also be emphasized that the project was not JUST funded through NIH but also Department of Energy

Project Sponsors

For a great read on Dr. Craig Ventnor with interviews with the scientist see Dr. Larry Bernstein’s excellent post The Human Genome Project

 

By 2003 we had gained much information about the structure of DNA, genes, exons, introns and allowed us to gain more insights into the diversity of genetic material and the underlying protein coding genes as well as many of the gene-expression regulatory elements.  However there was much uninvestigated material dispersed between genes, the then called “junk DNA” and, up to 2003 not much was known about the function of this ‘junk DNA’.  In addition there were two other problems:

  • The reference DNA used was actually from one person (Craig Ventor who was the lead initiator of the project)
  • Multiple gaps in the DNA sequence existed, and needed to be filled in

It is important to note that a tremendous amount of diversity of protein has been realized from both transcriptomic and proteomic studies.  Although about 20 to 25,000 coding genes exist the human proteome contains about 600,000 proteoforms (due to alternative splicing, posttranslational modifications etc.)

This expansion of the proteoform via alternate splicing into isoforms, gene duplication to paralogs has been shown to have major effects on, for example, cellular signaling pathways (1)

However just recently it has been reported that the FULL human genome has been sequenced and is complete and verified.  This was the focus of a recent issue in the journal Science.

Source: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abj6987

Abstract

Since its initial release in 2000, the human reference genome has covered only the euchromatic fraction of the genome, leaving important heterochromatic regions unfinished. Addressing the remaining 8% of the genome, the Telomere-to-Telomere (T2T) Consortium presents a complete 3.055 billion–base pair sequence of a human genome, T2T-CHM13, that includes gapless assemblies for all chromosomes except Y, corrects errors in the prior references, and introduces nearly 200 million base pairs of sequence containing 1956 gene predictions, 99 of which are predicted to be protein coding. The completed regions include all centromeric satellite arrays, recent segmental duplications, and the short arms of all five acrocentric chromosomes, unlocking these complex regions of the genome to variational and functional studies.

 

The current human reference genome was released by the Genome Reference Consortium (GRC) in 2013 and most recently patched in 2019 (GRCh38.p13) (1). This reference traces its origin to the publicly funded Human Genome Project (2) and has been continually improved over the past two decades. Unlike the competing Celera effort (3) and most modern sequencing projects based on “shotgun” sequence assembly (4), the GRC assembly was constructed from sequenced bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) that were ordered and oriented along the human genome by means of radiation hybrid, genetic linkage, and fingerprint maps. However, limitations of BAC cloning led to an underrepresentation of repetitive sequences, and the opportunistic assembly of BACs derived from multiple individuals resulted in a mosaic of haplotypes. As a result, several GRC assembly gaps are unsolvable because of incompatible structural polymorphisms on their flanks, and many other repetitive and polymorphic regions were left unfinished or incorrectly assembled (5).

 

Fig. 1. Summary of the complete T2T-CHM13 human genome assembly.
(A) Ideogram of T2T-CHM13v1.1 assembly features. For each chromosome (chr), the following information is provided from bottom to top: gaps and issues in GRCh38 fixed by CHM13 overlaid with the density of genes exclusive to CHM13 in red; segmental duplications (SDs) (42) and centromeric satellites (CenSat) (30); and CHM13 ancestry predictions (EUR, European; SAS, South Asian; EAS, East Asian; AMR, ad-mixed American). Bottom scale is measured in Mbp. (B and C) Additional (nonsyntenic) bases in the CHM13 assembly relative to GRCh38 per chromosome, with the acrocentrics highlighted in black (B) and by sequence type (C). (Note that the CenSat and SD annotations overlap.) RepMask, RepeatMasker. (D) Total nongap bases in UCSC reference genome releases dating back to September 2000 (hg4) and ending with T2T-CHM13 in 2021. Mt/Y/Ns, mitochondria, chrY, and gaps.

Note in Figure 1D the exponential growth in genetic information.

Also very important is the ability to determine all the paralogs, isoforms, areas of potential epigenetic regulation, gene duplications, and transposable elements that exist within the human genome.

Analyses and resources

A number of companion studies were carried out to characterize the complete sequence of a human genome, including comprehensive analyses of centromeric satellites (30), segmental duplications (42), transcriptional (49) and epigenetic profiles (29), mobile elements (49), and variant calls (25). Up to 99% of the complete CHM13 genome can be confidently mapped with long-read sequencing, opening these regions of the genome to functional and variational analysis (23) (fig. S38 and table S14). We have produced a rich collection of annotations and omics datasets for CHM13—including RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) (30), Iso-seq (21), precision run-on sequencing (PRO-seq) (49), cleavage under targets and release using nuclease (CUT&RUN) (30), and ONT methylation (29) experiments—and have made these datasets available via a centralized University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), Assembly Hub genome browser (54).

 

To highlight the utility of these genetic and epigenetic resources mapped to a complete human genome, we provide the example of a segmentally duplicated region of the chromosome 4q subtelomere that is associated with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) (55). This region includes FSHD region gene 1 (FRG1), FSHD region gene 2 (FRG2), and an intervening D4Z4 macrosatellite repeat containing the double homeobox 4 (DUX4) gene that has been implicated in the etiology of FSHD (56). Numerous duplications of this region throughout the genome have complicated past genetic analyses of FSHD.

The T2T-CHM13 assembly reveals 23 paralogs of FRG1 spread across all acrocentric chromosomes as well as chromosomes 9 and 20 (Fig. 5A). This gene appears to have undergone recent amplification in the great apes (57), and approximate locations of FRG1 paralogs were previously identified by FISH (58). However, only nine FRG1 paralogs are found in GRCh38, hampering sequence-based analysis.

Future of the human reference genome

The T2T-CHM13 assembly adds five full chromosome arms and more additional sequence than any genome reference release in the past 20 years (Fig. 1D). This 8% of the genome has not been overlooked because of a lack of importance but rather because of technological limitations. High-accuracy long-read sequencing has finally removed this technological barrier, enabling comprehensive studies of genomic variation across the entire human genome, which we expect to drive future discovery in human genomic health and disease. Such studies will necessarily require a complete and accurate human reference genome.

CHM13 lacks a Y chromosome, and homozygous Y-bearing CHMs are nonviable, so a different sample type will be required to complete this last remaining chromosome. However, given its haploid nature, it should be possible to assemble the Y chromosome from a male sample using the same methods described here and supplement the T2T-CHM13 reference assembly with a Y chromosome as needed.

Extending beyond the human reference genome, large-scale resequencing projects have revealed genomic variation across human populations. Our reanalyses of the 1KGP (25) and SGDP (42) datasets have already shown the advantages of T2T-CHM13, even for short-read analyses. However, these studies give only a glimpse of the extensive structural variation that lies within the most repetitive regions of the genome assembled here. Long-read resequencing studies are now needed to comprehensively survey polymorphic variation and reveal any phenotypic associations within these regions.

Although CHM13 represents a complete human haplotype, it does not capture the full diversity of human genetic variation. To address this bias, the Human Pangenome Reference Consortium (59) has joined with the T2T Consortium to build a collection of high-quality reference haplotypes from a diverse set of samples. Ideally, all genomes could be assembled at the quality achieved here, but automated T2T assembly of diploid genomes presents a difficult challenge that will require continued development. Until this goal is realized, and any human genome can be completely sequenced without error, the T2T-CHM13 assembly represents a more complete, representative, and accurate reference than GRCh38.

 

This paper was the focus of a Time article and their basis for making the lead authors part of their Time 100 people of the year.

From TIME

The Human Genome Is Finally Fully Sequenced

Source: https://time.com/6163452/human-genome-fully-sequenced/

 

The first human genome was mapped in 2001 as part of the Human Genome Project, but researchers knew it was neither complete nor completely accurate. Now, scientists have produced the most completely sequenced human genome to date, filling in gaps and correcting mistakes in the previous version.

The sequence is the most complete reference genome for any mammal so far. The findings from six new papers describing the genome, which were published in Science, should lead to a deeper understanding of human evolution and potentially reveal new targets for addressing a host of diseases.

A more precise human genome

“The Human Genome Project relied on DNA obtained through blood draws; that was the technology at the time,” says Adam Phillippy, head of genome informatics at the National Institutes of Health’s National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and senior author of one of the new papers. “The techniques at the time introduced errors and gaps that have persisted all of these years. It’s nice now to fill in those gaps and correct those mistakes.”

“We always knew there were parts missing, but I don’t think any of us appreciated how extensive they were, or how interesting,” says Michael Schatz, professor of computer science and biology at Johns Hopkins University and another senior author of the same paper.

The work is the result of the Telomere to Telomere consortium, which is supported by NHGRI and involves genetic and computational biology experts from dozens of institutes around the world. The group focused on filling in the 8% of the human genome that remained a genetic black hole from the first draft sequence. Since then, geneticists have been trying to add those missing portions bit by bit. The latest group of studies identifies about an entire chromosome’s worth of new sequences, representing 200 million more base pairs (the letters making up the genome) and 1,956 new genes.

 

NOTE: In 2001 many scientists postulated there were as much as 100,000 coding human genes however now we understand there are about 20,000 to 25,000 human coding genes.  This does not however take into account the multiple diversity obtained from alternate splicing, gene duplications, SNPs, and chromosomal rearrangements.

Scientists were also able to sequence the long stretches of DNA that contained repeated sequences, which genetic experts originally thought were similar to copying errors and dismissed as so-called “junk DNA”. These repeated sequences, however, may play roles in certain human diseases. “Just because a sequence is repetitive doesn’t mean it’s junk,” says Eichler. He points out that critical genes are embedded in these repeated regions—genes that contribute to machinery that creates proteins, genes that dictate how cells divide and split their DNA evenly into their two daughter cells, and human-specific genes that might distinguish the human species from our closest evolutionary relatives, the primates. In one of the papers, for example, researchers found that primates have different numbers of copies of these repeated regions than humans, and that they appear in different parts of the genome.

“These are some of the most important functions that are essential to live, and for making us human,” says Eichler. “Clearly, if you get rid of these genes, you don’t live. That’s not junk to me.”

Deciphering what these repeated sections mean, if anything, and how the sequences of previously unsequenced regions like the centromeres will translate to new therapies or better understanding of human disease, is just starting, says Deanna Church, a vice president at Inscripta, a genome engineering company who wrote a commentary accompanying the scientific articles. Having the full sequence of a human genome is different from decoding it; she notes that currently, of people with suspected genetic disorders whose genomes are sequenced, about half can be traced to specific changes in their DNA. That means much of what the human genome does still remains a mystery.

The investigators in the Telomere to Telomere Consortium made the Time 100 People of the Year.

Michael Schatz, Karen Miga, Evan Eichler, and Adam Phillippy

Illustration by Brian Lutz for Time (Source Photos: Will Kirk—Johns Hopkins University; Nick Gonzales—UC Santa Cruz; Patrick Kehoe; National Human Genome Research Institute)

BY JENNIFER DOUDNA

MAY 23, 2022 6:08 AM EDT

Ever since the draft of the human genome became available in 2001, there has been a nagging question about the genome’s “dark matter”—the parts of the map that were missed the first time through, and what they contained. Now, thanks to Adam Phillippy, Karen Miga, Evan Eichler, Michael Schatz, and the entire Telomere-to-Telomere Consortium (T2T) of scientists that they led, we can see the full map of the human genomic landscape—and there’s much to explore.

In the scientific community, there wasn’t a consensus that mapping these missing parts was necessary. Some in the field felt there was already plenty to do using the data in hand. In addition, overcoming the technical challenges to getting the missing information wasn’t possible until recently. But the more we learn about the genome, the more we understand that every piece of the puzzle is meaningful.

I admire the

T2T group’s willingness to grapple with the technical demands of this project and their persistence in expanding the genome map into uncharted territory. The complete human genome sequence is an invaluable resource that may provide new insights into the origin of diseases and how we can treat them. It also offers the most complete look yet at the genetic script underlying the very nature of who we are as human beings.

Doudna is a biochemist and winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Source: https://time.com/collection/100-most-influential-people-2022/6177818/evan-eichler-karen-miga-adam-phillippy-michael-schatz/

Other articles on the Human Genome Project and Junk DNA in this Open Access Scientific Journal Include:

 

International Award for Human Genome Project

 

Cracking the Genome – Inside the Race to Unlock Human DNA – quotes in newspapers

 

The Human Genome Project

 

Junk DNA and Breast Cancer

 

A Perspective on Personalized Medicine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additional References

 

  1. P. Scalia, A. Giordano, C. Martini, S. J. Williams, Isoform- and Paralog-Switching in IR-Signaling: When Diabetes Opens the Gates to Cancer. Biomolecules 10, (Nov 30, 2020).

 

 

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The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2021

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

UPDATED ON 12/18/2021

12/8/2021, Stockholm, Sweden

6 October 2021

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2021

to

Benjamin List
Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany

David W.C. MacMillan
Princeton University, USA

“for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis”

Meet UC’s 2021 Nobelists

Three UC-affiliated scientists have won Nobel Prizes this year: UCSF professor David Julius, UCLA alum Ardem Patapoutian and UC Irvine alum David W.C. MacMillan.

SOURCE

UC’s new Nobelists
UC San Francisco, UCLA and UC Irvine
Three UC-affiliated scientists were awarded Nobel Prizes this week. UC San Francisco professor David Julius shared the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with UCLA alum Ardem Patapoutian. UC Irvine alum David W.C. MacMillan won in chemistry. 

From: University of California <webeditor@ucop.edu>
Reply-To: University of California <webeditor@ucop.edu>
Date: Friday, October 8, 2021 at 1:02 PM
To: Aviva Lev-Ari <avivalev-ari@alum.berkeley.edu>
Subject: 3 UC Nobel Prize winners!

IMAGE SOURCE:
Chemistry Nobel Prize Honors Technique for Building Molecules. Benjamin List and David MacMillan received the 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their development of asymmetrical organocatalysis. https://www.quantamagazine.org/chemistry-nobel-prize-honors-technique-for-building-molecules-20211006/

An ingenious tool for building molecules

Building molecules is a difficult art. Benjamin List and David MacMillan are awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2021 for their development of a precise new tool for molecular construction: organocatalysis. This has had a great impact on pharmaceutical research, and has made chemistry greener.

Many research areas and industries are dependent on chemists’ ability to construct molecules that can form elastic and durable materials, store energy in batteries or inhibit the progression of diseases. This work requires catalysts, which are substances that control and accelerate chemical reactions, without becoming part of the final product. For example, catalysts in cars transform toxic substances in exhaust fumes to harmless molecules. Our bodies also contain thousands of catalysts in the form of enzymes, which chisel out the molecules necessary for life.

Catalysts are thus fundamental tools for chemists, but researchers long believed that there were, in principle, just two types of catalysts available: metals and enzymes. Benjamin List and David MacMillan are awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2021 because in 2000 they, independent of each other, developed a third type of catalysis. It is called asymmetric organocatalysis and builds upon small organic molecules.

“This concept for catalysis is as simple as it is ingenious, and the fact is that many people have wondered why we didn’t think of it earlier,” says Johan Åqvist, who is chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry.

Organic catalysts have a stable framework of carbon atoms, to which more active chemical groups can attach. These often contain common elements such as oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur or phosphorus. This means that these catalysts are both environmentally friendly and cheap to produce.

The rapid expansion in the use of organic catalysts is primarily due to their ability to drive asymmetric catalysis. When molecules are being built, situations often occur where two different molecules can form, which – just like our hands – are each other’s mirror image. Chemists will often only want one of these, particularly when producing pharmaceuticals.

Organocatalysis has developed at an astounding speed since 2000. Benjamin List and David MacMillan remain leaders in the field, and have shown that organic catalysts can be used to drive multitudes of chemical reactions. Using these reactions, researchers can now more efficiently construct anything from new pharmaceuticals to molecules that can capture light in solar cells. In this way, organocatalysts are bringing the greatest benefit to humankind.

Benjamin List, born 1968 in Frankfurt, Germany. Ph.D. 1997 from Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany. Director of the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany.

David W.C. MacMillan, born 1968 in Bellshill, UK. Ph.D. 1996 from University of California, Irvine, USA. Professor at Princeton University, USA.

Prize amount: 10 million Swedish kronor, to be shared equally between the Laureates.
Further information: http://www.kva.se and http://www.nobelprize.org

SOURCE

https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/2021/press-release/

Scientific Background: Enamine and iminium ion-mediated organocatalysis (pdf)

Chemistry Nobel Prize Honors Technique for Building Molecules

by Jordana Cepelewicz

https://www.quantamagazine.org/chemistry-nobel-prize-honors-technique-for-building-molecules-20211006/

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The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2021 was awarded jointly to David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian “for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch.”

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

UPDATED on 12/18/2021

Nobel Prize Lecture in Stockholm, Sweden, 12/7/2021

UPDATED on 10/14/2021

49th (2019) – Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research

for their remarkable contributions to our understanding of the sensations of temperature, pain and touch

David Julius – 49th (2019) – Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research

for their remarkable contributions to our understanding of the sensations of temperature, pain and touch


(2021 Nobel Prize)
Morris Herzstein Chair in Molecular Biology and Medicine
Professor and Chair, Department of Physiology
School of Medicine
The University of California, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA USA

Ardem Patapoutian – 49th (2019) – Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research for their remarkable contributions to our understanding of the sensations of temperature, pain and touch


(2021 Nobel Prize)

Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Professor, Department of Neuroscience
The Scripps Research Institute
La Jolla, CA USA

Press release: The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2021. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2021. Mon. 4 Oct 2021. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/medicine/2021/press-release/>

David Julius was born in 1955 in New York, USA. He received a Ph.D. in 1984 from University of California, Berkeley and was a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University, in New York. David Julius was recruited to the University of California, San Francisco in 1989 where he is now Professor.

Ardem Patapoutian was born in 1967 in Beirut, Lebanon. In his youth, he moved from a war-torn Beirut to Los Angeles, USA and received a Ph.D. in 1996 from California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco. Since 2000, he is a scientist at Scripps Research, La Jolla, California where he is now Professor. He is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator since 2014.

Meet UC’s 2021 Nobelists

Three UC-affiliated scientists have won Nobel Prizes this year: UCSF professor David Julius, UCLA alum Ardem Patapoutian and UC Irvine alum David W.C. MacMillan.

SOURCE

UC’s new Nobelists
UC San Francisco, UCLA and UC Irvine
Three UC-affiliated scientists were awarded Nobel Prizes this week. UC San Francisco professor David Julius shared the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with UCLA alum Ardem Patapoutian. UC Irvine alum David W.C. MacMillan won in chemistry. 

From: University of California <webeditor@ucop.edu>
Reply-To: University of California <webeditor@ucop.edu>
Date: Friday, October 8, 2021 at 1:02 PM
To: Aviva Lev-Ari <avivalev-ari@alum.berkeley.edu>
Subject: 3 UC Nobel Prize winners!

Key publications

Caterina MJ, Schumacher MA, Tominaga M, Rosen TA, Levine JD, Julius D. The capsaicin receptor: a heat-activated ion channel in the pain pathway. Nature 1997:389:816-824.

Tominaga M, Caterina MJ, Malmberg AB, Rosen TA, Gilbert H, Skinner K, Raumann BE, Basbaum AI, Julius D. The cloned capsaicin receptor integrates multiple pain-producing stimuli. Neuron 1998:21:531-543.

Caterina MJ, Leffler A, Malmberg AB, Martin WJ, Trafton J, Petersen-Zeitz KR, Koltzenburg M, Basbaum AI, Julius D. Impaired nociception and pain sensation in mice lacking the capsaicin receptor. Science 2000:288:306-313

McKemy DD, Neuhausser WM, Julius D. Identification of a cold receptor reveals a general role for TRP channels in thermosensation. Nature 2002:416:52-58

Peier AM, Moqrich A, Hergarden AC, Reeve AJ, Andersson DA, Story GM, Earley TJ, Dragoni I, McIntyre P, Bevan S, Patapoutian A. A TRP channel that senses cold stimuli and menthol. Cell 2002:108:705-715

Coste B, Mathur J, Schmidt M, Earley TJ, Ranade S, Petrus MJ, Dubin AE, Patapoutian A. Piezo1 and Piezo2 are essential components of distinct mechanically activated cation channels. Science 2010:330: 55-60

Ranade SS, Woo SH, Dubin AE, Moshourab RA, Wetzel C, Petrus M, Mathur J, Bégay V, Coste B, Mainquist J, Wilson AJ, Francisco AG, Reddy K, Qiu Z, Wood JN, Lewin GR, Patapoutian A. Piezo2 is the major transducer of mechanical forces for touch sensation in mice. Nature 2014:516:121-125

Discoveries by this year's Nobel Prize laureates
Figure 4 The seminal discoveries by this year’s Nobel Prize laureates have explained how heat, cold and touch can initiate signals in our nervous system. The identified ion channels are important for many physiological processes and disease conditions.

IMAGE SOURCE: https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/medicine/2021/press-release/


The science heats up!

In the latter part of the 1990’s, David Julius at the University of California, San Francisco, USA, saw the possibility for major advances by analyzing how the chemical compound capsaicin causes the burning sensation we feel when we come into contact with chili peppers. Capsaicin was already known to activate nerve cells causing pain sensations, but how this chemical actually exerted this function was an unsolved riddle. Julius and his co-workers created a library of millions of DNA fragments corresponding to genes that are expressed in the sensory neurons which can react to pain, heat, and touch. Julius and colleagues hypothesized that the library would include a DNA fragment encoding the protein capable of reacting to capsaicin. They expressed individual genes from this collection in cultured cells that normally do not react to capsaicin. After a laborious search, a single gene was identified that was able to make cells capsaicin sensitive (Figure 2). The gene for capsaicin sensing had been found! Further experiments revealed that the identified gene encoded a novel ion channel protein and this newly discovered capsaicin receptor was later named TRPV1. When Julius investigated the protein’s ability to respond to heat, he realized that he had discovered a heat-sensing receptor that is activated at temperatures perceived as painful (Figure 2).

David Julius' work
Figure 2 David Julius used capsaicin from chili peppers to identify TRPV1, an ion channel activated by painful heat. Additional related ion channels were identified and we now understand how different temperatures can induce electrical signals in the nervous system.

The discovery of TRPV1 was a major breakthrough leading the way to the unravelling of additional temperature-sensing receptors. Independently of one another, both David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian used the chemical substance menthol to identify TRPM8, a receptor that was shown to be activated by cold. Additional ion channels related to TRPV1 and TRPM8 were identified and found to be activated by a range of different temperatures. Many laboratories pursued research programs to investigate the roles of these channels in thermal sensation by using genetically manipulated mice that lacked these newly discovered genes. David Julius’ discovery of TRPV1 was the breakthrough that allowed us to understand how differences in temperature can induce electrical signals in the nervous system.

SOURCE

https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/medicine/2021/press-release/

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Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, PhD

In an announcement televised on C-Span, President Elect Joseph Biden announced his new Science Team to advise on science policy matters, as part of the White House Advisory Committee on Science and Technology. Below is a video clip and the transcript, also available at

https://www.c-span.org/video/?508044-1/president-elect-biden-introduces-white-house-science-team

 

 

COMING UP TONIGHT ON C-SPAN, NEXT, PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN AND VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT KAMALA HARRIS ANNOUNCE SEVERAL MEMBERS OF THEIR WHITE HOUSE SCIENCE TEAM. AND THEN SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER TALKS ABOUT THE IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT TRUMP IN THE WEEKLY DEMOCRATIC ADDRESS. AND AFTER THAT, TODAY’S SPEECH BY VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE TO SAILORS AT NAVAL AIR STATION LAMORE IN CALIFORNIA. NEXT, PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN AND VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT KAMALA HARRIS ANNOUNCE SEVERAL MEMBERS OF THEIR WHITE HOUSE SCIENCE TEAM. FROM WILMINGTON, DELAWARE, THIS IS ABOUT 40 MINUTES. PRESIDENT-ELECT BIDEN: GOOD AFTERNOON, FOLKS. I WAS TELLING THESE FOUR BRILLIANT SCIENTISTS AS I STOOD IN THE BACK, IN A WAY, THEY — THIS IS THE MOST EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT THAT I’VE GOTTEN TO MAKE IN THE ENTIRE CABINET RAISED TO A CABINET LEVEL POSITION IN ONE CASE. THESE ARE AMONG THE BRIGHTEST MOST DEDICATED PEOPLE NOT ONLY IN THE COUNTRY BUT THE WORLD. THEY’RE COMPOSED OF SOME OF THE MOST SCIENTIFIC BRILLIANT MINDS IN THE WORLD. WHEN I WAS VICE PRESIDENT AS — I I HAD INTENSE INTEREST IN EVERYTHING THEY WERE DOING AND I PAID ENORMOUS ATTENTION. AND I WOULD — LIKE A KID GOING BACK TO SCHOOL. SIT DOWN AND CAN YOU EXPLAIN TO ME AND THEY WERE — VERY PATIENT WITH ME. AND — BUT AS PRESIDENT, I WANTED YOU TO KNOW I’M GOING TO PAY A GREAT DEAL OF ATTENTION. WHEN I TRAVEL THE WORLD AS VICE PRESIDENT, I WAS OFTEN ASKED TO EXPLAIN TO WORLD LEADERS, THEY ASKED ME THINGS LIKE DEFINE AMERICA. TELL ME HOW CAN YOU DEFINE AMERICA? WHAT’S AMERICA? AND I WAS ON A TIBETAN PLATEAU WITH AT THE TIME WITH XI ZIN PING AND WE HAD AN INTERPRETER CAN I DEFINE AMERICA FOR HIM? I SAID YES, I CAN. IN ONE WORD. POSSIBILITIES. POSSIBILITIES. I THINK IT’S ONE OF THE REASONS WHY WE’VE OCCASIONALLY BEEN REFERRED TO AS UGLY AMERICANS. WE THINK ANYTHING’S POSSIBLE GIVEN THE CHANCE, WE CAN DO ANYTHING. AND THAT’S PART OF I THINK THE AMERICAN SPIRIT. AND WHAT THE PEOPLE ON THIS STAGE AND THE DEPARTMENTS THEY WILL LEAD REPRESENT ENORMOUS POSSIBILITIES. THEY’RE THE ONES ASKING THE MOST AMERICAN OF QUESTIONS, WHAT NEXT? WHAT NEXT? NEVER SATISFIED, WHAT’S NEXT? AND WHAT’S NEXT IS BIG AND BREATHTAKING. HOW CAN — HOW CAN WE MAKE THE IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE? AND THEY WERE JUST ASKING QUESTIONS FOR THE SAKE OF QUESTIONS, THEY’RE ASKING THESE QUESTIONS AS CALL TO ACTION. , TO INSPIRE, TO HELP US IMAGINE THE FUTURE AND FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE IT REAL AND IMPROVE THE LIVES OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD. THIS IS A TEAM THAT ASKED US TO IMAGINE EVERY HOME IN AMERICA BEING POWERED BY RENEWABLE ENERGY WITHIN THE NEXT 10 YEARS. OR 3-D IMAGE PRINTERS RESTORING TISSUE AFTER TRAUMATIC INJURIES AND HOSPITALS PRINTING ORGANS FOR ORGAN TRANSPLANTS. IMAGINE, IMAGINE. AND THEY REALLY — AND, YOU KNOW, THEN RALLY, THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY TO GO ABOUT DOING WHAT WE’RE IMAGINING. YOU NEED SCIENCE, DATA AND DISCOVERY WAS A GOVERNING PHILOSOPHY IN THE OBAMA-BIDEN ADMINISTRATION. AND EVERYTHING FROM THE ECONOMY TO THE ENVIRONMENT TO CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM AND TO NATIONAL SECURITY. AND ON HEALTH CARE. FOR EXAMPLE, A BELIEF IN SCIENCE LED OUR EFFORTS TO MAP THE HUMAN BRAIN AND TO DEVELOP MORE PRECISE INDIVIDUALIZED MEDICINES. IT LED TO OUR ONGOING MISSION TO END CANCER AS WE KNOW IT, SOMETHING THAT IS DEEPLY PERSONAL TO BOTH MY FAMILY AND KAMALA’S FAMILY AND COUNTLESS FAMILIES IN AMERICA. WHEN PRESIDENT OBAMA ASKED ME TO LEAD THE CANCER MOON SHOT, I KNEW WE HAD TO INJECT A SENSE OF URGENCY INTO THE FIGHT. WE BELIEVED WE COULD DOUBLE THE RATE OF PROGRESS AND DO IN FIVE YEARS WHAT OTHERWISE WOULD TAKE 10. MY WIFE, JILL, AND I TRAVELED AROUND THE COUNTRY AND THE WORLD MEETING WITH THOUSANDS OF CANCER PATIENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES, PHYSICIANS, RESEARCHERS, PHILANTHROPISTS, TECHNOLOGY LEADERS AND HEADS OF STATE. WE SOUGHT TO BETTER UNDERSTAND AND BREAK DOWN THE SILOS AND STOVE PIPES THAT PREVENT THE SHARING OF INFORMATION AND IMPEDE ADVANCES IN CANCER RESEARCH AND TREATMENT WHILE BUILDING A FOCUSED AND COORDINATED EFFORT HERE AT HOME AND ABROAD. WE MADE PROGRESS. BUT THERE’S SO MUCH MORE THAT WE CAN DO. WHEN I ANNOUNCED THAT I WOULD NOT RUN IN 2015 AT THE TIME, I SAID I ONLY HAD ONE REGRET IN THE ROSE GARDEN AND IF I HAD ANY REGRETS THAT I HAD WON, THAT I WOULDN’T GET TO BE THE PRESIDENT TO PRESIDE OVER CANCER AS WE KNOW IT. WELL, AS GOD WILLING, AND ON THE 20TH OF THIS MONTH IN A COUPLE OF DAYS AS PRESIDENT I’M GOING TO DO EVERYTHING I CAN TO GET THAT DONE. I’M GOING TO — GOING TO BE A PRIORITY FOR ME AND FOR KAMALA AND IT’S A SIGNATURE ISSUE FOR JILL AS FIRST LADY. WE KNOW THE SCIENCE IS DISCOVERY AND NOT FICTION. AND IT’S ALSO ABOUT HOPE. AND THAT’S AMERICA. IT’S IN THE D.N.A. OF THIS COUNTRY, HOPE. WE’RE ON THE CUSP OF SOME OF THE MOST REMARKABLE BREAKTHROUGHS THAT WILL FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGE THE WAY OF LIFE FOR ALL LIFE ON THIS PLANET. WE CAN MAKE MORE PROGRESS IN THE NEXT 10 YEARS, I PREDICT, THAN WE’VE MADE IN THE LAST 50 YEARS. AND EXPONENTIAL MOVEMENT. WE CAN ALSO FACE SOME OF THE MOST DIRE CRISES IN A GENERATION WHERE SCIENCE IS CRITICAL TO WHETHER OR NOT WE MEET THE MOMENT OF PERIL AND PROMISE THAT WE KNOW IS WITHIN OUR REACH. IN 1944, FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT ASKED HIS SCIENCE ADVISOR HOW COULD THE UNITED STATES FURTHER ADVANCE SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH IN THE CRITICAL YEARS FOLLOWING THE SECOND WORLD WAR? THE RESPONSE LED TO SOME OF THE MOST GROUND BREAKING DISCOVERIES IN THE LAST 75 YEARS. AND WE CAN DO THAT AGAIN. AND WE CAN DO MORE. SO TODAY, I’M PROUD TO ANNOUNCE A TEAM OF SOME OF THE COUNTRY’S MOST BRILLIANT AND ACCOMPLISHED SCIENTISTS TO LEAD THE WAY. AND I’M ASKING THEM TO FOCUS ON FIVE KEY AREAS. FIRST THE PANDEMIC AND WHAT WE CAN LEARN ABOUT WHAT IS POSSIBLE OR WHAT SHOULD BE POSSIBLE TO ADDRESS THE WIDEST RANGE OF PUBLIC HEALTH NEEDS. SECONDLY, THE ECONOMY, HOW CAN WE BUILD BACK BETTER TO ENSURE PROSPERITY IS FULLY SHARED ALL ACROSS AMERICA? AMONG ALL AMERICANS? AND THIRDLY, HOW SCIENCE HELPS US CONFRONT THIS CLIMATE CRISIS WE FACE IN AMERICA AND THE WORLD BUT IN AMERICA HOW IT HELPS US CONFRONT THE CLIMATE CRISIS WITH AMERICAN JOBS AND INGENUITY. AND FOURTH, HOW CAN WE ENSURE THE UNITED STATES LEADS THE WORLD IN TECHNOLOGIES AND THE INDUSTRIES THAT THE FUTURE THAT WILL BE CRITICAL FOR OUR ECONOMIC PROSPERITY AND NATIONAL SECURITY? ESPECIALLY WITH THE INTENSE INCREASED COMPETITION AROUND THE WORLD FROM CHINA ON? AND FIFTH, HOW CAN WE ASSURE THE LONG-TERM HEALTH AND TRUST IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN OUR NATION? YOU KNOW, THESE ARE EACH QUESTIONS THAT CALL FOR ACTION. AND I’M HONORED TO ANNOUNCE A TEAM THAT IS ANSWERING THE CALL TO SERVE. AS THE PRESIDENTIAL SCIENCE ADVISOR AND DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY, I NOMINATE ONE OF THE MOST BRILLIANT GUYS I KNOW, PERSONS I KNOW, DR. ERIC LANDER. AND THANK YOU, DOC, FOR COMING BACK. THE PIONEER — HE’S A PIONEER IN THE STIFFING COMMUNITY. PRINCIPAL LEADER IN THE HUMAN GENOME PROJECT. AND NOT HYPERBOLE TO SUGGEST THAT DR. LANDER’S WORK HAS CHANGED THE COURSE OF HUMAN HISTORY. HIS ROLE IN HELPING US MAP THE GENOME PULLED BACK THE CURTAIN ON HUMAN DISEASE, ALLOWING SCIENTISTS, EVER SINCE, AND FOR GENERATIONS TO COME TO EXPLORE THE MOLECULAR BASIS FOR SOME OF THE MOST DEVASTATING ILLNESSES AFFECTING OUR WORLD. AND THE APPLICATION OF HIS PIONEERING WORK AS — ARE POISED TO LEAD TO INCREDIBLE CURES AND BREAKTHROUGHS IN THE YEARS TO COME. DR. LANDER NOW SERVES AS THE PRESIDENT AND FOUNDING DIRECTOR OF THE BRODE INSTITUTE AT M.I.T. AND HARVARD, THE WORLD’S FOREMOST NONPROFIT GENETIC RESEARCH ORGANIZATION. AND I CAME TO APPRECIATE DR. LANDER’S EXTRAORDINARY MIND WHEN HE SERVED AS THE CO-CHAIR OF THE PRESIDENT’S COUNCIL ON ADVISORS AND SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DURING THE OBAMA-BIDEN ADMINISTRATION. AND I’M GRATEFUL, I’M GRATEFUL THAT WE CAN WORK TOGETHER AGAIN. I’VE ALWAYS SAID THAT BIDEN-HARRIS ADMINISTRATION WILL ALSO LEAD AND WE’RE GOING TO LEAD WITH SCIENCE AND TRUTH. WE BELIEVE IN BOTH. [LAUGHTER] GOD WILLING OVERCOME THE PANDEMIC AND BUILD OUR COUNTRY BETTER THAN IT WAS BEFORE. AND THAT’S WHY FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY, I’M GOING TO BE ELEVATING THE PRESIDENTIAL SCIENCE ADVISOR TO A CABINET RANK BECAUSE WE THINK IT’S THAT IMPORTANT. AS DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY AND SCIENCE AND — SCIENCE AND SOCIETY, I APPOINT DR. NELSON. SHE’S A PROFESSOR AT THE INSTITUTE OF ADVANCED STUDIES AT PRINCETON UNIVERSITY. THE PRESIDENT OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH COUNCIL. AND ONE OF AMERICA’S LEADING SCHOLARS IN THE — AN AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR AND RESEARCHER AND EXPLORING THE CONNECTIONS BETWEEN SCIENCE AND OUR SOCIETY. THE DAUGHTER OF A MILITARY FAMILY, HER DAD SERVED IN THE UNITED STATES NAVY AND HER MOM WAS AN ARMY CRIPPING TO RAFFER. DR. NELSON DEVELOPED A LOVE OF TECHNOLOGY AT A VERY YOUNG AGE PARTICULARLY WITH THE EARLY COMPUTER PRODUCTS. COMPUTING PRODUCTS AND CODE-BREAKING EQUIPMENT THAT EVERY KID HAS AROUND THEIR HOUSE. AND SHE GREW UP WITHIN HER HOME. WHEN I WROTE THAT DOWN, I THOUGHT TO MYSELF, I MEAN, HOW MANY KIDS — ANY WAY, THAT PASSION WAS A PASSION FORGED A LIFELONG CURIOSITY ABOUT THE INEQUITIES AND THE POWER DIAMONDICS THAT SIT BENEATH THE SURFACE OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND THE TECHNOLOGY WE BUILD. DR. NELSON IS FOCUSED ON THOSE INSIGHTS. AND THE SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY, LIKE FEW BEFORE HER EVER HAVE IN AMERICAN HISTORY. BREAKING NEW GROUND ON OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE ROLE SCIENCE PLAYS IN AMERICAN LIFE AND OPENING THE DOOR TO — TO A FUTURE WHICH SCIENCE BETTER SERVES ALL PEOPLE. AS CO-CHAIR OF THE PRESIDENT’S COUNCIL ON ADVISORS OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY,APPOINT DR. FRANCIS ARNOLD, DIRECTOR OF THE ROSE BIOENGINEERING CENTER AT CALTECH AND ONE OF THE WORLD’S LEADING EXPERTS IN PROTEIN ENGINEERING, A LIFE-LONG CHAMPION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY SOLUTIONS WHO HAS BEEN INDUCTED INTO THE NATIONAL INVENTORS’ HALL OF FAME. THAT AIN’T A BAD PLACE TO BE. NOT ONLY IS SHE THE FIRST WOMAN TO BE ELECTED TO ALL THREE NATIONAL ACADEMIES OF SCIENCE, MEDICINE AND ENGINEERING AND ALSO THE FIRST WOMAN, AMERICAN WOMAN, TO WIN A NOBEL PRIZE IN CHEMISTRY. A VERY SLOW LEARNER, SLOW STARTER, THE DAUGHTER OF PITTSBURGH, SHE WORKED AS A CAB DRIVER, A JAZZ CLUB SERVER, BEFORE MAKING HER WAY TO BERKELEY AND A CAREER ON THE LEADING EDGE OF HUMAN DISCOVERY. AND I WANT TO MAKE THAT POINT AGAIN. I WANT — IF ANY OF YOUR CHILDREN ARE WATCHING, LET THEM KNOW YOU CAN DO ANYTHING. THIS COUNTRY CAN DO ANYTHING. ANYTHING AT ALL. AND SO SHE SURVIVED BREAST CANCER, OVERCAME A TRAGIC LOSS IN HER FAMILY WHILE RISING TO THE TOP OF HER FIELD, STILL OVERWHELMINGLY DOMINATED BY MEN. HER PASSION HAS BEEN A STEADFAST COMMITMENT TO RENEWABLE ENERGY FOR THE BETTERMENT OF OUR PLANET AND HUMANKIND. SHE IS AN INSPIRING FIGURE TO SCIENTISTS ACROSS THE FIELD AND ACROSS NATIONS. AND I WANT TO THANK DR. ARNOLD FOR AGREEING TO CO-CHAIR A FIRST ALL WOMAN TEAM TO LEAD THE PRESIDENT’S COUNCIL OF ADVISORS ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY WHICH LEADS ME TO THE NEXT MEMBER OF THE TEAM. AS CO-CHAIR, THE PRESIDENT’S COUNCIL OF ADVISORS ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, I APPOINT DR. MARIE ZUBER. A TRAIL BLAZER BRAISING GEO PHYSICIST AND PLANETARY SCIENTIST A. FORMER CHAIR OF THE NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD. FIRST WOMAN TO LEAD THE SCIENCE DEPARTMENT AT M.I.T. AND THE FIRST WOMAN TO LEAD NASA’S ROBOTIC PLANETARY MISSION. GROWING UP IN COLE COUNTRY NOT FAR FROM HEAVEN, SCRANTON, PENNSYLVANIA, IN CARBON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, ABOUT 50 MILES SOUTH OF WHERE I WAS A KID, SHE DREAMED OF EXPLORING OUTER SPACE. COULD HAVE TOLD HER SHE WOULD JUST GO TO GREEN REACH IN SCRANTON AND FIND WHERE IT WAS. AND I SHOULDN’T BE SO FLIPPANT. BUT I’M SO EXCITED ABOUT THESE FOLKS. YOU KNOW, READING EVERY BOOK SHE COULD FIND AND LISTENING TO HER MOM’S STORIES ABOUT WATCHING THE EARLIEST ROCKET LAUNCH ON TELEVISION, MARIE BECAME THE FIRST PERSON IN HER FAMILY TO GO TO COLLEGE AND NEVER LET GO OF HER DREAM. TODAY SHE OVERSEES THE LINCOLN LABORATORY AT M.I.T. AND LEADS THE INSTITUTION’S CLIMATE ACTION PLAN. GROWING UP IN COLD COUNTRY, NOT AND FINALLY, COULD NOT BE HERE TODAY, BUT I’M PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THAT I’VE HAD A LONG CONVERSATION WITH DR. FRANCIS COLLINS AND COULD NOT BE HERE TODAY. AND I’VE ASKED THEM TO STAY ON AS DIRECTOR OF THE INSTITUTE OF HEALTH AND — AT THIS CRITICAL MOMENT. I’VE KNOWN DR. COLLINS FOR MANY YEARS. I WORKED WITH HIM CLOSELY. HE’S BRILLIANT. A PIONEER. A TRUE LEADER. AND ABOVE ALL, HE’S A MODEL OF PUBLIC SERVICE AND I’M HONORED TO BE WORKING WITH HIM AGAIN. AND IT IS — IN HIS ABSENCE I WANT TO THANK HIM AGAIN FOR BEING WILLING TO STAY ON. I KNOW THAT WASN’T HIS ORIGINAL PLAN. BUT WE WORKED AN AWFUL LOT ON THE MOON SHOT AND DEALING WITH CANCER AND I JUST WANT TO THANK HIM AGAIN. AND TO EACH OF YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES, AND I SAY YOUR FAMILIES, THANK YOU FOR THE WILLINGNESS TO SERVE. AND NOT THAT YOU HAVEN’T BEEN SERVING ALREADY BUT TO SERVE IN THE ADMINISTRATION. AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, TO ALL THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, THIS IS A TEAM THAT’S GOING TO HELP RESTORE YOUR FAITH IN AMERICA’S PLACE IN THE FRONTIER OF SCIENCE AND DISCOVER AND HOPE. I’M NOW GOING TO TURN THIS OVER STARTING WITH DR. LANDER, TO EACH OF OUR NOMINEES AND THEN WITH — HEAR FROM THE VICE PRESIDENT. BUT AGAIN, JUST CAN’T THANK YOU ENOUGH AND I REALLY MEAN IT. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU FOR WILLING TO DO THIS. DOCTOR, IT’S ALL YOURS. I BETTER PUT MY MASK ON OR I’M GOING TO GET IN TROUBLE.

 

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2020 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats to Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson

Reporter: Aviva Lev- Ari, PhD, RN

UPDATED on 10/16/2020

The Nobel Prize for economic sciences this year went to Paul MIlgrom and Robert Wilson. Milgrom is recognized as one of the world’s great experts in auction theory, and I interviewed him for my book In the Plex (finally out in paper next February!) about Google’s clever AdWords approach to bidding, which was crafted by Google engineer Eric Veach along with his boss Salar Kamangar. I’d asked Milgrom to compare the AdWords system to the competitor, Overture:

One fan of Veach’s system was the top auction theorist, Stanford economist Paul Milgrom. “Overture’s auctions were much less successful,” says Milgrom. “In that world, you bid by the slot. If you wanted to be in third position, you put in a bid for third. If there’s an obvious guy to win the first position, nobody would bid against him, and he’d get it cheap. If you wanted to be in every position, you had to make bids for each of them. But Google simplified the auction. Instead of making eight bids for the eight positions, you made one single bid. The competition for second position will automatically raise the price for the first position. So the simplification thickens the market. The effect is that it guarantees that there’s competition for the top positions.”

Veach and Kamangar’s implementation was so impressive that it changed even Milgrom’s way of thinking. “Once I saw this from Google, I began seeing it everywhere,” he says, citing examples in spectrum auctions, diamond markets, and the competition between Kenyan and Rwandan coffee beans. “I’ve begun to realize that Google somehow or other introduced a level of simplification to ad auctions that was not included before.” And it wasn’t just a theoretical advance. “Google immediately started getting higher prices for advertising than Overture was getting,” he notes.

SOURCE

From: WIRED’s Steven Levy <wired@newsletters.wired.com>

Date: Friday, October 16, 2020 at 8:00 AM

To: “Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN” <AvivaLev-Ari@alum.berkeley.edu>

Subject: Clarence Thomas wants to rethink internet speech. Be afraid

Paul Milgrom (left) and Robert Wilson share the 2020 Nobel prize in economic sciences for improvements to auction theory and invention of new auction formats.

Image Credit: Elena Zhukova for the Stanford Graduate School of Business

UPDATED on 10/13/2020

 

The 2020 Nobel prize in economic sciences rewards work on an ancient form of transaction that has acquired new complexity and urgency in the modern age: the auction.

Insights in auction theory made by Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson, both of Stanford University in California, have found applications ranging from the pricing of government bonds to the licensing of radio-spectrum bands in telecommunications.

Diane Coyle of the University of Cambridge, UK, says that the Nobel, announced on 12 October, will be widely welcomed. “These two not only did foundational work themselves”, she says, “but also inspired cohorts of younger researchers.”

Economist Preston McAfee of Google agrees. “I, and thousands like me, use the fruits of their work on a daily basis to make markets work better — to improve pricing, to manage incentives, to facilitate decision-making, to increase efficiency.”

Their research has intersected with computer science and communications engineering to lay the foundations for many online platforms, Coyle adds.

Economist John Kagel of Ohio State University in Columbus, USA, called it “an outstanding selection”.

Online platforms such as eBay have raised public awareness of some of the complexities of auctions. There are many ways to stage them: for example, in a so-called “English auction” the item on offer simply goes to the highest bidder; whereas in a “Dutch auction” the selling starts from a high price, and bidders submit the price they are willing to pay.

But bidding is affected by many more factors that might reduce the seller’s final profit, cause losses for the winning bidder, create inefficiencies of allocation, or harm the public good. The work of the two laureates has helped to reduce these problems and to suggest new, more efficient ways for auctions to be conducted.

One problem is that different bidders can have different degrees of knowledge about an item for sale. For example, in a property auction, all bidders for a property will have access to some public information such as its resale value. But other kinds of information — such as hidden structural damage — will be private and not known to everyone.

A bidder who does not have such information might end up overpaying if they want to buy the property. They might be able to infer what others know about the value if bids are public – and people start to drop out – but not if bids are private.

In the late 1960s and 1970s, Wilson showed what happens to prices and profits in auctions when bidders have different degrees of private information.

Furthermore, if information about a property is highly uncertain — if the nature of the neighbourhood is rapidly changing, say — that could make buyers cautious and reduce the seller’s profit. In the 1980s, Milgrom — a former doctoral student of Wilson’s — developed models (partly in conjunction with Robert Weber of Northwestern University) that showed there is then an incentive for sellers to gather and share expert information with bidders, within different auction formats. The predictions of how such public information helps prevent losses to sellers and increases their revenue have been born out by experiments, says Kagel.

A spectrum of options

Auctions can be more complex when the goods for sale are divisible into parts or batches — for example, when governments sell licenses to companies bidding to operate in energy, telecommunications or transportation markets. One issue for such auctions is that sellers are vulnerable to collusion between buyers to keep the buying price down. Wilson’s work in the 1970s helped to identify these problems and to design new auctions to avoid them, for example in markets for electricity provision.

The sales of items might also be interdependent. A classic example in the 1990s was the sale of radio-frequency bands to telecom companies for mobile-phone networks — which many countries decided was best done through auctions.

If rights to frequency bands were simply auctioned region by region, a national telecoms company couldn’t be sure of acquiring the same frequency everywhere. And the value to them for one region would depend on whether they could buy the same frequency band elsewhere. The resulting patchwork of coverage would be inconvenient for users too.

To tackle such problems, Milgrom and Wilson (and independently, McAfee) devised the simultaneous multiple-round auction (SMRA). Here, bidders can place bids over several rounds of bidding. This gives them a chance to glean something about others’ private information while bidding, creating fairer and more efficient outcomes.

This approach was used in 1994 for auctioning telecom licenses in the United States, and has been adopted in Canada, India, and several European and Scandinavian countries. Milgrom has also devised other formats that ease some of the shortcomings of the SMRA.

“Unlike many theoreticians, Wilson and Milgrom brought their work to the real world, and transformed government policies toward auctions around the world,” says McAfee.

“There was no question that these two would win the Nobel prize at some point,” says economist Paul Klemperer of the University of Oxford. “It could have happened at any time in the past 20 years.”

“One could even imagine Paul Milgrom having a second Nobel prize,” he adds, for his work in information economics and industrial organization. Milgrom has given a Nobel acceptance speech before: in 1996, as a stand-in for William Vickery, who died three days after the announcement of his prize for laying the foundations of auction theory in the 1960s.

SOURCE

Prize announcement. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2020. Mon. 12 Oct 2020

https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/economic-sciences/2020/prize-announcement/

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2020

Paul R. Milgrom

© Nobel Media. Ill. Niklas Elmehed.

Paul R. Milgrom

Prize share: 1/2

Robert B. Wilson

 

© Nobel Media. Ill. Niklas Elmehed.

Robert B. Wilson

Prize share: 1/2

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2020 was awarded jointly to Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson “for improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats.”

 
 

Prize announcement

Announcement of the 2020 Prize in Economic Sciences by Professor Göran K. Hansson, Secretary General of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, on 12 October 2020.

“This prize is about avoiding the winner’s curse”

Immediately after the announcement, Tommy Andersson, member of the committee for the Prize in Economic Sciences, was interviewed by freelance journalist Joanna Rose regarding the 2020 Prize in Economic Sciences.

Press release: The Prize in Economic Sciences 2020

English
English (pdf)
Swedish
Swedish (pdf)
Logo

12 October 2020

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2020 to

Paul R. Milgrom
Stanford University, USA

Robert B. Wilson
Stanford University, USA

“for improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats”

Their theoretical discoveries have improved auctions in practice

This year’s Laureates, Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson, have studied how auctions work. They have also used their insights to design new auction formats for goods and services that are difficult to sell in a traditional way, such as radio frequencies. Their discoveries have benefitted sellers, buyers and taxpayers around the world.

People have always sold things to the highest bidder, or bought them from whoever makes the cheapest offer. Nowadays, objects worth astronomical sums of money change hands every day in auctions, not only household objects, art and antiquities, but also securities, minerals and energy. Public procurements can also be conducted as auctions.

Using auction theory, researchers try to understand the outcomes of different rules for bidding and final prices, the auction format. The analysis is difficult, because bidders behave strategically, based on the available information. They take into consideration both what they know themselves and what they believe other bidders to know.

Robert Wilson developed the theory for auctions of objects with a common value – a value which is uncertain beforehand but, in the end, is the same for everyone. Examples include the future value of radio frequencies or the volume of minerals in a particular area. Wilson showed why rational bidders tend to place bids below their own best estimate of the common value: they are worried about the winner’s curse – that is, about paying too much and losing out.

Paul Milgrom formulated a more general theory of auctions that not only allows common values, but also private values that vary from bidder to bidder. He analysed the bidding strategies in a number of well-known auction formats, demonstrating that a format will give the seller higher expected revenue when bidders learn more about each other’s estimated values during bidding.

Over time, societies have allocated ever more complex objects among users, such as landing slots and radio frequencies. In response, Milgrom and Wilson invented new formats for auctioning off many interrelated objects simultaneously, on behalf of a seller motivated by broad societal benefit rather than maximal revenue. In 1994, the US authorities first used one of their auction formats to sell radio frequencies to telecom operators. Since then, many other countries have followed suit.

“This year’s Laureates in Economic Sciences started out with fundamental theory and later used their results in practical applications, which have spread globally. Their discoveries are of great benefit to society,” says Peter Fredriksson, chair of the Prize Committee.

Illustrations

The illustrations are free to use for non-commercial purposes. Attribute ”© Johan Jarnestad/The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences”

Illustration: Auctions (pdf)
Illustration: Winner’s curse (pdf)
Illustration: Auction frequencies (pdf)

Read more about this year’s prize

Popular science background: The quest for the perfect auction
Scientific Background: Improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats

Paul R. Milgrom, born 1948 in Detroit, USA.
Ph.D. 1979 from Stanford University, Stanford, USA. Shirley and Leonard Ely Jr. Professor of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford University, USA.

Robert B. Wilson, born 1937 in Geneva, USA.
D.B.A. 1963 from Harvard University, Cambridge, USA. Adams Distinguished Professor of Management, Emeritus, Stanford University, USA.

The Prize amount: 10 million Swedish kronor, to be shared equally between the Laureates.
Further information: www.kva.se and http://www.nobelprize.org
Press contact: Eva Nevelius, Press Secretary, +46 70 878 67 63, eva.nevelius@kva.se
Experts: Tommy Andersson, +46 73 358 26 54, tommy.andersson@nek.lu.se, Tore Ellingsen, +46 70 796 10 49, tore.ellingsen@hhs.se, Torsten Persson, +46 79 313 39 04, torsten.persson@iies.su.se, Committee for the Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel

SOURCE

https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/economic-sciences/2020/summary/

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The University of California has a proud legacy of winning Nobel Prizes, 68 faculty and staff have been awarded 69 Nobel Prizes.

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

 

PREVIOUS PRIZE WINNERS

The University of California has a proud legacy of winning Nobel Prizes that stretches all the way back to 1939, when Ernest O. Lawrence was awarded the prize in physics for his invention of the cyclotron. In the years since, dozens of other University of California faculty and staff have been awarded this highest international honor for their contributions in medicine, economics, physics and more.

Today, 68 faculty and staff have been awarded 69 Nobel Prizes.

View as grid

Name

Campus affiliation

Field of study

Year of award

  • Jennifer Doudna

    UC Berkeley

    Chemistry

    2020

  • Andrea Ghez

    UCLA

    Physics

    2020

  • Reinhard Genzel

    UC Berkeley

    Physics

    2020

  • Randy Schekman

    UC Berkeley

    Physiology or medicine

    2013

  • Lloyd Shapley

    UCLA

    Economics

    2012

  • Shinya Yamanaka

    UC San Francisco

    Physiology or medicine

    2012

  • Saul Perlmutter

    UC Berkeley/Berkeley Lab

    Physics

    2011

  • Elizabeth Blackburn

    UC San Francisco

    Physiology or medicine

    2009

  • Oliver E. Williamson

    UC Berkeley

    Economics

    2009

  • Roger Y. Tsien

    UC San Diego

    Chemistry

    2008

  • George Smoot

    UC Berkeley/Berkeley Lab

    Physics

    2006

  • Richard R. Schrock

    UC Riverside

    Chemistry

    2005

  • David Gross

    UC Santa Barbara

    Physics

    2004

  • Finn E. Kydland

    UC Santa Barbara

    Economic sciences

    2004

  • Irwin Rose

    UC Irvine

    Chemistry

    2004

  • Robert F. Engle

    UC San Diego

    Economic sciences

    2003

  • Clive Granger

    UC San Diego

    Economic sciences

    2003

  • Sydney Brenner

    UC San Diego

    Physiology or medicine

    2002

  • George Akerlof

    UC Berkeley

    Economic sciences

    2001

  • Alan J. Heeger

    UC Santa Barbara

    Chemistry

    2000

  • Herbert Kroemer

    UC Santa Barbara

    Physics

    2000

  • Daniel McFadden

    UC Berkeley

    Economic sciences

    2000

  • Louis J. Ignarro

    UCLA

    Physiology or medicine

    1998

  • Walter Kohn

    UC Santa Barbara

    Chemistry

    1998

  • Robert B. Laughlin

    UC Livermore Lab

    Physics

    1998

  • Paul D. Boyer

    UCLA

    Chemistry

    1997

  • Steven Chu

    UC Berkeley/Berkeley Lab

    Physics

    1997

  • Stanley B. Prusiner

    UC San Francisco

    Physiology or medicine

    1997

  • Paul Crutzen

    UC San Diego

    Chemistry

    1995

  • Mario J. Molina

    UC San Diego

    Chemistry

    1995

  • Frederick Reines

    UC Irvine

    Physics

    1995

  • F. Sherwood Rowland

    UC Irvine

    Chemistry

    1995

  • John Harsanyi

    UC Berkeley

    Economic sciences

    1994

  • Harry Markowitz

    UC San Diego

    Economic sciences

    1990

  • J. Michael Bishop

    UC San Francisco

    Physiology or medicine

    1989

  • Harold E. Varmus

    UC San Francisco

    Physiology or medicine

    1989

  • Donald J. Cram

    UCLA

    Chemistry

    1987

  • Yuan T. Lee

    UC Berkeley/Berkeley Lab

    Chemistry

    1986

  • Gerard Debreu

    UC Berkeley

    Economic sciences

    1983

  • Czeslaw Milosz

    UC Berkeley

    Literature

    1980

  • Roger Guillemin

    UC San Diego

    Physiology or medicine

    1977

  • Renato Dulbecco

    UC San Diego

    Physiology or medicine

    1975

  • George Emil Palade

    UC San Diego

    Physiology or medicine

    1974

  • John Robert Schrieffer

    UC Santa Barbara

    Physics

    1972

  • Hannes Alfven

    UC San Diego

    Physics

    1970

  • Luis Walter Alvarez

    UC Berkeley/Berkeley Lab

    Physics

    1968

  • Robert W. Holley

    UC San Diego

    Physiology or medicine

    1968

  • Julian Schwinger

    UCLA

    Physics

    1965

  • Charles H. Townes

    UC Berkeley

    Physics

    1964

  • Maria Goeppert-Mayer

    UC San Diego

    Physics

    1963

  • Francis Crick

    UC San Diego

    Physiology or medicine

    1962

  • Melvin Calvin

    UC Berkeley/Berkeley Lab

    Chemistry

    1961

  • Donald A. Glaser

    UC Berkeley/Berkeley Lab

    Physics

    1960

  • Willard Libby

    UCLA

    Chemistry

    1960

  • Owen Chamberlain

    UC Berkeley/Berkeley Lab

    Physics

    1959

  • Emilio Segrè

    UC Berkeley/Berkeley Lab

    Chemistry

    1959

  • Linus Pauling

    UC San Diego

    Chemistry, Peace

    1954, 1962

  • Edwin McMillan

    UC Berkeley/Berkeley Lab

    Chemistry

    1951

  • Glenn T. Seaborg

    UC Berkeley/Berkeley Lab

    Chemistry

    1951

  • William Giauque

    UC Berkeley

    Chemistry

    1949

  • John Howard Northrop

    UC Berkeley

    Chemistry

    1946

  • Wendell Meredith Stanley

    UC Berkeley

    Chemistry

    1946

  • Ernest Lawrence

    UC Berkeley/Berkeley Lab

    Physics

    1939

  • Harold Urey

    UC San Diego

    Chemistry

    1934

HOW UC NOBEL LAUREATES ARE COUNTED

Our list of Nobel Prize winners includes University of California faculty and staff who were affiliated with UC when they received their award. It also includes faculty and staff who joined UC after receiving their Nobel Prize. And although we are immensely proud of the many UC alumni who have gone on to receive Nobel Prizes, they are not counted here. Nor are visiting scholars or others who had short-term assignments with UC. Finally, our Nobelist list is a “lifetime” list and includes those living, retired or deceased.

SOURCE

https://nobel.universityofcalifornia.edu/

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The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020: Emmanuelle Charpentier & Jennifer A. Doudna

Reporters: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D. and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020 to

Emmanuelle Charpentier
Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, Berlin, Germany

Jennifer A. Doudna
University of California, Berkeley, USA

“for the development of a method for genome editing”

https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/2020/popular-information/#:~:text=Emmanuelle%20Charpentier%20and%20Jennifer%20Doudna,microorganisms%20with%20extremely%20high%20precision.

Genetic scissors: a tool for rewriting the code of life

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna have discovered one of gene technology’s sharpest tools: the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors. Using these, researchers can change the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with extremely high precision. This technology has had a revolutionary impact on the life sciences, is contributing to new cancer therapies and may make the dream of curing inherited diseases come true.

Researchers need to modify genes in cells if they are to find out about life’s inner workings. This used to be time-consuming, difficult and sometimes impossible work. Using the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors, it is now possible to change the code of life over the course of a few weeks.

“There is enormous power in this genetic tool, which affects us all. It has not only revolutionised basic science, but also resulted in innovative crops and will lead to ground-breaking new medical treatments,” says Claes Gustafsson, chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry.

As so often in science, the discovery of these genetic scissors was unexpected. During Emmanuelle Charpentier’s studies of Streptococcus pyogenes, one of the bacteria that cause the most harm to humanity, she discovered a previously unknown molecule, tracrRNA. Her work showed that tracrRNA is part of bacteria’s ancient immune system, CRISPR/Cas, that disarms viruses by cleaving their DNA.

Charpentier published her discovery in 2011. The same year, she initiated a collaboration with Jennifer Doudna, an experienced biochemist with vast knowledge of RNA. Together, they succeeded in recreating the bacteria’s genetic scissors in a test tube and simplifying the scissors’ molecular components so they were easier to use.

In an epoch-making experiment, they then reprogrammed the genetic scissors. In their natural form, the scissors recognise DNA from viruses, but Charpentier and Doudna proved that they could be controlled so that they can cut any DNA molecule at a predetermined site. Where the DNA is cut it is then easy to rewrite the code of life.

Since Charpentier and Doudna discovered the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors in 2012 their use has exploded. This tool has contributed to many important discoveries in basic research, and plant researchers have been able to develop crops that withstand mould, pests and drought. In medicine, clinical trials of new cancer therapies are underway, and the dream of being able to cure inherited diseases is about to come true. These genetic scissors have taken the life sciences into a new epoch and, in many ways, are bringing the greatest benefit to humankind.

Illustrations

The illustrations are free to use for non-commercial purposes. Attribute ”© Johan Jarnestad/The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences”

Illustration: Using the genetic scissors (pdf)
Illustration: Streptococcus’ natural immune system against viruses:CRISPR/Cas9 pdf)
Illustration: CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors (pdf)

Read more about this year’s prize

Popular information: Genetic scissors: a tool for rewriting the code of life (pdf)
Scientific Background: A tool for genome editing (pdf)

Emmanuelle Charpentier, born 1968 in Juvisy-sur-Orge, France. Ph.D. 1995 from Institut Pasteur, Paris, France. Director of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, Berlin, Germany.

Jennifer A. Doudna, born 1964 in Washington, D.C, USA. Ph.D. 1989 from Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA. Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, USA and Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

 

Other Articles on the Nobel Prize in this Open Access Journal Include:

2020 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine for Hepatitis C Discovery goes to British scientist Michael Houghton and US researchers Harvey Alter and Charles Rice

CONTAGIOUS – About Viruses, Pandemics and Nobel Prizes at the Nobel Prize Museum, Stockholm, Sweden 

AACR Congratulates Dr. William G. Kaelin Jr., Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe, and Dr. Gregg L. Semenza on 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for contributions to Cancer Immunotherapy to James P. Allison, Ph.D., of the University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas. Dr. Allison shares the prize with Tasuku Honjo, M.D., Ph.D., of Kyoto University Institute, Japan

2017 Nobel prize in chemistry given to Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank, and Richard Henderson  for developing cryo-electron microscopy

2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded for development of molecular machines, the world’s smallest mechanical devices, the winners: Jean-Pierre Sauvage, J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa

Correspondence on Leadership in Genomics and other Gene Curations: Dr. Williams with Dr. Lev-Ari

Programming life: An interview with Jennifer Doudna by Michael Chui, a partner of the McKinsey Global Institute

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2020 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine for Hepatitis C Discovery goes to British scientist Michael Houghton and US researchers Harvey Alter and Charles Rice

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2020

Harvey J. Alter

Ill. Niklas Elmehed. © Nobel Media.

Harvey J. Alter

Prize share: 1/3

Michael Houghton

 

Ill. Niklas Elmehed. © Nobel Media.

Michael Houghton

Prize share: 1/3

Charles M. Rice

 

Ill. Niklas Elmehed. © Nobel Media.

Charles M. Rice

Prize share: 1/3

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2020 was awarded jointly to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice “for the discovery of Hepatitis C virus.”

Nobel Prize for Medicine goes to Hepatitis C discovery

The winners are British scientist Michael Houghton and US researchers Harvey Alter and Charles Rice.

The Nobel Prize committee said their discoveries ultimately “saved millions of lives”. The virus is a common cause of liver cancer and a major reason why people need a liver transplant.

In the 1960s, there was huge concern that people receiving donated blood were getting chronic hepatitis (liver inflammation) from an unknown, mysterious disease. The Nobel Prize committee said a blood transfusion at the time was like “Russian roulette”. Highly sensitive blood tests mean such cases have now been eliminated in many parts of the world, and effective anti-viral drugs have also been developed. “For the first time in history, the disease can now be cured, raising hopes of eradicating Hepatitis C virus from the world,” the prize committee said. However, the 70 million people are currently living with the virus, which still kills around 400,000 a year.

The mystery killer

The viruses Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B had been discovered by the mid-1960s.

But Prof Harvey Alter, while studying transfusion patients at the US National Institutes of Health in 1972, showed there was another, mystery, infection at work. Patients were still getting sick after receiving donated blood. He showed that giving blood from infected patients to chimpanzees led to them developing the disease.

The mysterious illness became known as “non-A, non-B” hepatitis in and the hunt was now on.

Prof Michael Houghton, while at the pharmaceutical firm Chiron, managed to isolated the genetic sequence of the virus in 1989. This showed it was a type of flavivirus and it was named Hepatitis C.

And Prof Charles Rice, while at Washington University in St. Louis, applied the finishing touches in 1997. He injected a genetically engineered Hepatitis C virus into the liver of chimpanzees and showed this could lead to hepatitis.

SOURCE

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-54418463

 

2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019 Nobel Prize in Medicine went to:

 

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The History, Uses, and Future of the Nobel Prize, 1:00pm – 6:00pm, Thursday, October 4, 2018, Harvard Medical School

Reporter in Real Time: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Center for the History of Medicine

Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

invites you to register for

 The History, Uses, and Future of the Nobel Prize

1:00pm – 6:00pm, Thursday, October 4, 2018

A half-day symposium bringing together an international group of historians and Nobel laureates to consider the history of the Nobel Prize and its enduring social, political, and scientific roles

PROGRAM

Panel I: Scientific Credit and the History of the Nobel Prize

Chair: Allan Brandt (Harvard Medical School and Harvard University) /

Jacalyn M. Duffin (Queen’s University): Commemorating Excellence: the Nobel Prize and the Historical Sociology of Science /

Nils Hansson, Thorsten Halling,  and

Heiner Fangerau (Heinrich Heine-University): The First US-American Nobel Prize Nominees in Medicine (and why they failed) /

Jeffrey Flier (Harvard Medical School): The Past, Present, and Future of Scientific Credit in Biomedicine

 

Panel II: The Nobel – and Ig Nobel – Prize in Practice

Chair: David S. Jones (Harvard Medical School and Harvard University) /

David Kaiser (Massachusetts Institute of Technology): But Does it Scale? Awarding Nobel Prizes in Physics amid Exponential Growth /

Marc Abrahams (Annals of Improbable Research/Ig Nobel Prizes): Ig Nobel: Research that Makes You Laugh, then Makes You Think

Panel III: The Uses and Future of the Nobel Prize

Chair: Scott H. Podolsky (Harvard Medical School) /

Eric Chivian, Ira Helfand,

Bernard Lown,

James Muller, and

John Pastore (leadership of IPPNW, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, 1985): Decreasing the Nuclear Threat to Humanity – Nobel Peace Prizes to IPPNW in 1985 and ICAN in 2017 /

Torsten Wiesel (recipient, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1981): Nobel – Excellence Forever /

Jack Szostak (recipient, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2009): Opportunities and Responsibilities that Come with Winning the Nobel Prize

SOURCE

From: Center for the History of Medicine <chm=hms.harvard.edu@mail45.sea31.mcsv.net> on behalf of Center for the History of Medicine <chm@hms.harvard.edu>

Reply-To: Center for the History of Medicine <chm@hms.harvard.edu>

Date: Monday, September 24, 2018 at 3:14 PM

To: Aviva Lev-Ari <AvivaLev-Ari@alum.berkeley.edu>

Subject: Only 9 days away! Register for The History, Uses, and Future of the Nobel Prize on 10/4

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2017 Nobel prize in chemistry given to Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank, and Richard Henderson  for developing cryo-electron microscopy

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Here’s what the images that just won the Nobel prize in chemistry look like and why they’re so transformative

IMAGE SOURCE
Over the last few years, researchers have published atomic structures of numerous complicated protein complexes. a. A protein complex that governs the circadian rhythm. b. A sensor of the type that reads pressure changes in the ear and allows us to hear. c. The Zika virus.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
 
SOURCE
 

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017

4 October 2017

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017 to

Jacques Dubochet
University of Lausanne, Switzerland

Joachim Frank
Columbia University, New York, USA

and

Richard Henderson
MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK

“for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution”

 

Cool microscope technology revolutionises biochemistry

We may soon have detailed images of life’s complex machineries in atomic resolution. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017 is awarded to Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson for the development of cryo-electron microscopy, which both simplifies and improves the imaging of biomolecules. This method has moved biochemistry into a new era.

A picture is a key to understanding. Scientific breakthroughs often build upon the successful visualisation of objects invisible to the human eye. However, biochemical maps have long been filled with blank spaces because the available technology has had difficulty generating images of much of life’s molecular machinery. Cryo-electron microscopy changes all of this. Researchers can now freeze biomolecules mid-movement and visualise processes they have never previously seen, which is decisive for both the basic understanding of life’s chemistry and for the development of pharmaceuticals.

Electron microscopes were long believed to only be suitable for imaging dead matter, because the powerful electron beam destroys biological material. But in 1990, Richard Henderson succeeded in using an electron microscope to generate a three-dimensional image of a protein at atomic resolution. This breakthrough proved the technology’s potential.

Joachim Frank made the technology generally applicable. Between 1975 and 1986 he developed an image processing method in which the electron microscope’s fuzzy twodimensional images are analysed and merged to reveal a sharp three-dimensional structure.

Jacques Dubochet added water to electron microscopy. Liquid water evaporates in the electron microscope’s vacuum, which makes the biomolecules collapse. In the early 1980s, Dubochet succeeded in vitrifying water – he cooled water so rapidly that it solidified in its liquid form around a biological sample, allowing the biomolecules to retain their natural shape even in a vacuum.

Following these discoveries, the electron microscope’s every nut and bolt have been optimised. The desired atomic resolution was reached in 2013, and researchers can now routinely produce three-dimensional structures of biomolecules. In the past few years, scientific literature has been filled with images of everything from proteins that cause antibiotic resistance, to the surface of the Zika virus. Biochemistry is now facing an explosive development and is all set for an exciting future.

Read more about this year’s prize

Popular Information
Pdf 2.7 MB

Scientific Background
Pdf 837 Kb

To read the text you need Acrobat Reader.

Image – 3D structures (pdf 1.4 MB)
© Johan Jarnestad/The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Image – Blobology (pdf 8.5 MB)
© Martin Högbom/The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Image – Dubochet’s preparation method (948 kB)
© Johan Jarnestad/The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Image – Frank’s image analysis (pdf 1 MB)
© Johan Jarnestad/The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

 


Jacques Dubochet, born 1942 in Aigle, Switzerland. Ph.D. 1973, University of Geneva and University of Basel, Switzerland. Honorary Professor of Biophysics, University of Lausanne, Switzerland.
www.unil.ch/dee/en/home/menuinst/people/honorary-professors/prof-jacques-dubochet.html

Joachim Frank, born 1940 in Siegen, Germany. Ph.D. 1970, Technical University of Munich, Germany. Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and of Biological Sciences, Columbia University, New York, USA.
http://franklab.cpmc.columbia.edu/franklab/

Richard Henderson, born 1945 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Ph.D. 1969, Cambridge University, UK. Programme Leader, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK.
www2.mrc-lmb.cam.ac.uk/groups/rh15/

Prize amount: 9 million Swedish krona, to be shared equally between the Laureates.
Further information: http://www.kva.se and http://nobelprize.org

SOURCE

https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/2017/press.html

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