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The 2012 Science Nobel Prizes – What were they given for? – George Dubyak (Physiology and Biophysics), Paul Tesar (Genetics), Harsh Mathur (Physics)

Date: Thu. February 7th, 2013, 4:15 pm-5:15 pm
Location: Rockefeller 301

Three 15-minute talks on the 2012 Nobel prizewinners and their work.

The 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics: Making Gedanken Experiments Real.

The 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Serge Haroche and David Wineland for experimental methods that allow the measurement and manipulation of individual quantum systems. I will briefly describe their complementary experimental methods, their ground breaking experiments, and possible implications for clocks, computers and cats.

The 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry Award to Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka: G Protein-Coupled Receptors as Key Mediators of Biological Communication and Regulation

A fundamental aspect of biological regulation is that cells can sense many types of changes in their external environment and respond to these extrinsic cues with appropriate functional adaptation in their internal biochemistry. This communication or signal transduction occurs across the phospholipid bilayer membranes which separate the extracellular and intracellular compartments and is predominantly mediated by cell surface receptor proteins that physically span the membrane lipid bilayer. Cell surface receptors in eukaryotic cells (i.e., those with a nucleus) include four major “super-families”. Each superfamily comprises distinct but structurally related membrane proteins. G protein-coupled receptors (“GPCRs”) constitute the largest of these receptor protein super-families. GPCRs mediate an extraordinarily wide range of biological signal transduction processes in all eukaryotic organisms including humans. Indeed, 800-900 of the estimated 20,000-25,000 genes in the human genome encode GPCRs. They regulate processes that include the human ability to see, smell, and taste as well as the capacity of human organ systems, such as the heart and brain, to respond to the many hormones and neurotransmitters that precisely regulate minute-to-minute biological function. GPCRs are the targets for approximately 50 per cent of the therapeutic drugs used to treat human diseases. Dr. Robert Lefkowitz of Duke University and Dr. Brian Kobilka of Stanford University were awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their contributions that have elucidated the molecular structures and complex biochemistry of GPCR proteins.

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