STOCKHOLM – Americans James Rothman and Randy Schekman
and German-born researcher Thomas Suedhof won the 2013 Nobel
Prize in medicine today for discoveries on how hormones, enzymes
and other key substances are transported within cells.
The Nobel Committee said the three’s research on “vesicle
traffic” – the transport system of our cells – helped scientists
understand how “cargo is delivered to the right place at the right
time” inside cells.
Disturbances to the system may contribute to diabetes and
neurological and immunological disorders, the committee said.
Rothman, 62, is a professor at Yale University, while Schekman,
64, is at the University of California, Berkeley. Suedhof, 57, joined
Stanford University in 2008.
“My first reaction was, Oh, my God!” said Schekman in a
statement released by Berkeley. “That was also my second reaction.”
The university said Schekman’s research led to the success of the
biotechnology industry. Schekman studied normal and defective yeast
to identify the process of vesicle transport, the university said.
The Nobel Committee said Schekman discovered a set of genes
that were required for vesicle transport, while Rothman revealed
how proteins docked with their target membranes like two sides of a
zipper. Sudhof found out how vesicles released their cargo
“These discoveries have had a major impact on our understanding
of how cargo is delivered with timing and precision within and
outside the cell,” the committee said.
Rothman and Schekman won the Albert Lasker Basic
Medical Research Award for their research in 2002 – an award
often seen as a precursor of a Nobel Prize.
The medicine prize kicked off this year’s Nobel announcements.
The awards in physics, chemistry, literature, peace and economics
will be announced by other prize juries this week and next. Each
prize is worth eight million Swedish kronor (BDS$2.4 million). (AP)