October 8, 2008

Three U.S. Chemists Share Nobel Prize

Three U.S. chemists share the 2008 Nobel Prize in chemistry for their discovery of the green fluorescent protein, the Nobel Foundation said Wednesday.

Osamu Shimomura of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., and Boston University Medical School; Martin Chalfie of Columbia University and Roger Tsien, of University of California-San Diego were recognized for their work in discovering the green fluorescent protein, or GFP, in the 1960s and developments that led to its use as a tagging tool in bioscience, the foundation in Sweden said in a news release.

Shimomura first isolated GFP from jellyfish that drift with the currents off the west coast of North America, discovering the protein glowed bright green under ultraviolet light, the foundation said.

Chalfie showed the value of GFP as a luminous genetic tag for biological phenomena.

Tsien contributed to the understanding of how GFP shows fluorescence and extended the color palette beyond green, allowing researchers to give proteins and cells different colors.