Researcher Supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Is A Co-Winner of 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Department of Energy Under Secretary for Science Dr. Raymond L. Orbach has congratulated Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie and Roger Y. Tsien for co-winning the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for transforming a green fluorescent protein from jellyfish into one of the most important tools of molecular biology that researchers now use to watch such previously invisible processes as the development of nerve cells in the brain or how cancer cells are formed.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry jointly to Drs. Shimomura, Chalfie and Tsien “for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP.”

Dr. Shimomura, a citizen of Japan, is Professor Emeritus at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and Boston University Medical School. Dr. Chalfie, a citizen of the U.S., is Professor of Biological Sciences at Columbia University. Dr. Tsien, an American citizen, is a Professor at The University of California, San Diego.

“This year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry,” the Royal Academy’s October 8 news release announced, “rewards the initial discovery of GFP and a series of important developments which have led to its use as a tagging tool in bioscience. By using DNA technology, researchers can now connect GFP to other interesting, but otherwise invisible, proteins. This glowing marker allows them to watch the movements, positions and interactions of the tagged proteins. Researchers can also follow the fate of various cells with the help of GFP: nerve cell damage during Alzheimer's disease or how insulin-producing beta cells are created in the pancreas of a growing embryo. In one spectacular experiment, researchers succeeded in tagging different nerve cells in the brain of a mouse with a kaleidoscope of colors.”

“On behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy, I congratulate Drs. Shimomura, Chalfie and Tsien for winning the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing an ingenious bioscience tool that has revolutionized medical research by enabling researchers to watch molecules interact in real-time inside living cells or whole animals,” Dr. Orbach said.

“Dr. Tsien and other collaborators employed one of our scientific user facilities, the National Synchrotron Light Source at the Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, for research leading to the solution of the crystal structure of green fluorescent protein, published in 1996,” Dr. Orbach said. “We also are pleased to note that the Department of Energy’s Office of Science has directly supported Dr. Tsien’s research to develop general ways to noninvasively image the expression of arbitrarily chosen genes within living organisms.”

Read DOE Brookhaven National Laboratory's article “Nobel Prize in Chemistry Linked to National Synchrotron Light Source Protein WorkExternal link.”

The Department of Energy has sponsored 48 Nobel Laureates since DOE’s inception in 1977 – and a total of 88 Nobel Laureates associated with DOE and its predecessor agencies since 1934.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences' news release announcing the 2008 Nobel Prize in ChemistryExternal link is also available.

Learn more about the Nobel laureates supported by the Department of Energy.

Media contact(s):
Bethany Shively, (202) 586-4940

Last modified: 3/15/2013 5:07:06 PM