2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

  • #1
Ygggdrasil
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This morning, the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm.

Life on Earth is adapted to the rotation of our planet. For many years we have known that living organisms, including humans, have an internal, biological clock that helps them anticipate and adapt to the regular rhythm of the day. But how does this clock actually work? Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young were able to peek inside our biological clock and elucidate its inner workings. Their discoveries explain how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronized with the Earth's revolutions.

Using fruit flies as a model organism, this year's Nobel laureates isolated a gene that controls the normal daily biological rhythm. They showed that this gene encodes a protein that accumulates in the cell during the night, and is then degraded during the day. Subsequently, they identified additional protein components of this machinery, exposing the mechanism governing the self-sustaining clockwork inside the cell. We now recognize that biological clocks function by the same principles in cells of other multicellular organisms, including humans.

With exquisite precision, our inner clock adapts our physiology to the dramatically different phases of the day. The clock regulates critical functions such as behavior, hormone levels, sleep, body temperature and metabolism. Our wellbeing is affected when there is a temporary mismatch between our external environment and this internal biological clock, for example when we travel across several time zones and experience "jet lag". There are also indications that chronic misalignment between our lifestyle and the rhythm dictated by our inner timekeeper is associated with increased risk for various diseases.
https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2017/press.html
 
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  • #2
Drakkith
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Congrats to the team!

There are also indications that chronic misalignment between our lifestyle and the rhythm dictated by our inner timekeeper is associated with increased risk for various diseases.

Hmm... I need to keep a consistent sleep schedule.
 
  • #3
jim mcnamara
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@Drakkith - I think you work the nightshift, which affects several of aspects of the circadian rhythm. Example: exposure to daylight, replaced by indoor lighting at night.
 
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Drakkith
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@Drakkith - I think you work the nightshift, which affects several of aspects of the circadian rhythm. Example: exposure to daylight, replaced by indoor lighting at night.

I haven't worked night shift in more than 5 years. My problem is that I can't get myself into bed at a decent time and so my sleep schedule swings back and forth by upwards of 4-8 hours. I've had this issue pretty much my entire adult life, regardless of what shift I'm working.
 
  • #5
ISamson
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Receiving the Nobel Prize is a very high achievement and difficult to get. The team must be congratulated.
Congratulations!

We have for long known that we and all the other animals have an inner clock, that regulates our sleep and behaviour, but we have not known why. Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young have identified a gene that controls this stimulus, thus successfully explaining this behaviour. This is an outstanding discovery, because it answers a long-thought-of question. Well done!
 
  • #6
DS2C
Great stuff. What an honor.
 
  • #7
ISamson
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Must be heart-breaking to wake up in the morning by a phone call from the Nobel Committee to find out that you have just won the most honourable prize in science. Wow.
 
  • #8
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This is a great example of how much we can learn also about behaviour of more complex systems due to the universality of molecular biology by studying of behaviour cells of alot simple systems. It is interesting when you find functional and behaviour traits that are sort of scale invariant with respect to complexity. Sometimes i think that the life of fruit flies and yeast cells are not too unlike for the rest of us, they are by no means trivial things. Perhaps the much unwanted fruit flies should be shown some more respect :)

/Fredrik
 
  • #10
SciencewithDrJ
This morning, the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm.


https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2017/press.html

Thank you for sharing this, it's simply outstanding work. I tend to be a night owl myself, and have been so most of my adult life. I didn't take it seriously, but based on these discoveries it seems I should.

Many things come to mind as I read this news release.The power of hydrogen bonds in protein-protein interaction, in protein-DNA interaction, and in the increasingly significant evidence of membrane nano-bio-machinery in regulation of several functions in cells.

The second thing that comes to mind is the bewildering commonality of molecular biology across living entities that otherwise look entirely different on the outside.

And thirdly, the invaluable gain for humanity from basic research, as many people (and governments) criticize scientists who do research in areas that lack obvious and immediate practical application, which of course reflects lack of vision, because learning about the natural world, regardless of how trivial discoveries may initially seem, almost always leads to unexpected major long term rewards.

And that's why I love science.
 

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