Nobel Prize In Chemistry 2017 Awarded For Imaging The Molecules Of Life

Nobel Prize In Chemistry 2017 Awarded For Imaging The Molecules Of Life


It was recently used to reveal the structure of the Zika virus. He announced the names of the winners Wednesday from the group's headquarters in Stockholm. Though much of this work was done before then, he said joining Columbia was instrumental to meeting colleagues across departments and working with brilliant students who contributed pieces to this "immense puzzle".

In the first half of the 20th century, biomolecules - proteins, DNA and RNA - were terra incognita on the map of biochemistry. The problem with freezing biological samples is that ice crystals diffract the electron beam, blurring the image. This year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry celebrates three scientists for their role in developing cryo-electron microscopy, a technique that literally freezes biomolecules in living cells in mid-motion and resolves their images down to the level of atoms.

Joachim Frank, from Germany, made the microscope technology more easy to apply in a general setting by processing images of the molecules in such a way that fuzzy two-dimensional images were turned into sharp, 3-D structures.

Previous electron microscopes were less useful, partly because they need the sample to be placed in a vacuum.

Meanwhile Prof Dubochet introduced his method of vitrifying water - cooling water so rapidly that it solidifies around a biological sample, allowing the molecules to retain their natural shape even in a vacuum.

The technique has continuously been improved and in 2013, it reached its desired atomic resolution, the prize committee said.

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded for work that helps researchers see what biomolecules look like.

The honorary biophysics professor was noted not only for his humility, but also his humour.

His frank and often humorous CV external linkpublished on the University of Lausanne website begins with his being "conceived by optimistic parents", alludes to challenges with dyslexia as a child as well as a fear of the dark.

Each receives an equal share of the nine million Swedish krona (£837,000) prize money.

Jacques Dubochet of Switzerland, Joachim Frank of the USA and Richard Henderson of the United Kingdom were awarded the prize for cryo-electron microsopy.

The announcement was praised by the scientific community and observers around the world.

In the early 1930s, physicist Ernst Ruska and engineer Max Knoll invented the electron microscope that could view objects 400 times smaller than what was capable with the naked eye. The revolutionary technology enables the researchers to freeze biomolecules mid-movement and visualize processes. It can also be used to examine proteins that kickstart the immune system's attack on intruder viruses. "Knowing this structure opens up the possibility of rational drug design in this area". I'd say there are a lot of both basic science consequences, and practical consequences.

The literature victor will be announced on Thursday and the peace prize will be declared on Friday.

  • Terrell Bush