October 8, 2008

Japanese Chemist Shimomura Wins 2008 Nobel Prize

Tokyo, Oct. 8 (Jiji Press)--Osamu Shimomura, professor emeritus at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole in the U.S. state of Massachusetts, has won the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, becoming this year's fourth Japanese Nobel Prize recipient, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said Wednesday.

The award, worth 10 million Swedish kronor, or 140 million yen, is shared equally by Shimomura, 80, and two U.S. researchers-- Martin Chalfie, junior professor of Biological Sciences at Columbia University in New York, and Roger Tsien, professor at the University of California in San Diego, the academy said.

Shimomura in a world first isolated green fluorescent protein, or GFP, from a jellyfish called Aequorea victories in the early 1960s, and Chalfie succeeded in making cells luminous through introduction of the GFP gene. Tsien elucidated the protein's light-emitting mechanism and altered the gene so cells can produce yellow and blue light.

Thanks to those developments, GFP has become one of the most important tools in bioscience and medical research.

With the aid of the protein, "researchers have developed ways to watch processes that were previously invisible, such as the development of nerve cells in the brain or how cancer cells spread," the academy said.

The academy on Tuesday gave the Nobel Prize in Physics to three Japanese scientists, including one who has acquired U.S. citizenship. Sixteen Japanese have now won the Nobel Prize.

In chemistry, Koichi Tanaka, researcher at Japanese precision equipment maker Shimadzu Corp. , last took the Nobel Prize in 2002.END

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