Campus, News

BU prof wins a Nobel

Boston University associate professor Osamu Shimomura won the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry Wednesday for his work with green fluorescent protein.
Shimomura was part of a team of three scientists who isolated the green fluorescent protein, or GFP, from jellyfish, according to a Marine Biological Laboratory press release. The protein is now used to illuminate microscopic organic material, including cells. Shimomura is an MBL senior scientist emeritus.
‘GFP technology has revolutionized what we can see at the most fundamental levels of life,’ MBL Director and Chief Executive Officer Gary Borisy said in the press release. ‘GFP is revealing, for example, how proteins move and interact in cells. Now that the genome is sequenced, understanding protein function is one of the greatest scientific and medical challenges of our time.’
Shimomura started his work with the protein in 1961. Alongside Martin Chalfie, a Columbia University biological sciences professor and Roger Tsien, a University of California, San Diego pharmacology professor, Shimomura developed the protein to observe nerve and cancer cell development. Chalfie and Tsien also received the award.
BU Medical Campus Provost Karen Antman said in an email to the BU School of Medicine community that Shimomura’s discovery of GFP is ‘one of the most important tools in contemporary science and medicine for illuminating life at the microscopic level.’ Shimomura teaches biophysics and physiology at MED.
‘His work has changed the course of science and medicine,’ Antman, MED dean, said. ‘GFP is a guiding light for medical scientists, researchers and biochemists. I know the entire Boston University Medical Campus faculty, and that of the University, join me in congratulating Dr. Shimomura on this lifetime achievement.’
Shimomura, Chalfie and Tsien will be sharing the 10 million kronor prize, which amounts to about $1.4 million. The kronor is Swedish currency. The award ceremony will take place Dec. 10 in Stockholm, according to the Nobel Prize website.’

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