Nobel Prize In Medicine Awarded To 'Body Clock' Scientists

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This isn't the first time the three have been recognised for their work on circadian rhythms, however: in 2013, they shared the Shaw Prize in life science and medicine, then worth US$1 million. They experimented with fruit flies to find the gene that controls the daily biological rhythm.

We now know a lot more about the circadian rhythm, and subsequent scientists have expanded the research, finding similar proteins in humans (though there's still a lot of work to do).

Both Jeffrey C. Hall and Michael Rosbash worked at Brandeis University.

From left to right: Michael Young, Jeffrey Hall, and Michael Rosbash. In the 1980s, the pair collaborated with geneticist Michael W. Young, 68, of Rockefeller University in NY to characterize what are known as the "period" and "timeless" genes. Between them, studying mutated fruit flies, they put together an explanation of what is going on at a molecular level.

The awardees' work stems back to 1984, when Mr Rosbash and Mr Hall, who was then also at Brandeis, along with Mr Young isolated the "period gene" in fruit flies.

In 1994 Young discovered a second clock gene, which he named "timeless", that helps control the period gene's activity.

The statement further read, "We now recognize that biological clocks function by the same principles in cells of other multicellular organisms, including humans". He said he got the call about the award just after 5 a.m. (Benzer died in 2007.) At the time, the idea that behaviour could have a genetic basis was controversial, says Wijnen.

"The Swedish Academy has made a decision to announce the name of this year's Nobel Literature Prize laureate on Thursday, October 5, at 1:00 pm" (1100 GMT), the Academy wrote on its website on Monday.

Why it matters: Their combined work launched a subgenre of molecular biology that focused on circadian rhythm proteins.

The early 1980s was a much different time for DNA research-there was no human genome project, no CRISPR, and the computers used to evaluate DNA research were a lot slower.

Better understanding of the workings of the body clock has opened up a fascinating field of scientific quest. These rhythms show why disturbance in a particular pattern - such as lack of sleep due to jet lag or insomnia - could potentially have devastating consequences on the body and result in increased risk of many diseases.

The Nobel prize in Medicine previous year was won by Yoshinori Ohsumi, a Japanese cell biologist, for discovering the process called "autophagy" in which cells destroy and recycle cellular components. In 2002, he became associated with the University of Maine.

Research on the body clock has helped scientists improve health. "I hadn't even had a thought about this", he said.

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