Lausanne University professor wins Nobel Prize for chemistry

Martin Luther King woken up by Stockholm's Lucia in 1964

Martin Luther King woken up by Stockholm's Lucia in 1964

Since its inception, the technique has been used to provide images of cell membranes, structures such as the "needle" used by the salmonella bacteriium to attack cells, and in designing drug molecules to attach to specific targets in new therapies.

The body said the development was "decisive for both the basic understanding of life's chemistry and for the development of pharmaceuticals". "We are facing a revolution in biochemistry", said Nobel Committee chair Sara Snogerup Linse, a scientist a the Center for Molecular Protein Science at Lund University in Sweden. Though much of this work was done before then, he said joining Columbia was instrumental to meeting colleagues across departments and working with brilliant students who contributed pieces to this "immense puzzle".

"We may soon have detailed images of life's complex machinery in atomic resolution".

A challenge remained: how to use low-energy radiation to see less organized molecules. So we've gathered a few of the best cryo-electron microscopy images we could find.

This is a three-dimensional image of enterovirus D68 (center) reconstructed from cryo-electron micrographs (background). This technique, which is still in use today, permitted cryo-electron microscopy on DNA, viruses and other biospecimens sitting in pure water.

Dubochet, born in 1942, is an honorary professor of biophysics at Lausanne University and graduated from Basel and Geneva Universities.

Dubochet, Frank, and Henderson will receive their Nobel medals at ceremony in Stockholm on 10 December.

Initial reactions from the academic community of chemists have been positive.

Latest technical developments like the introduction of new electron detectors - Direct Electron Detectors - in electron microscopes helped further improve the resolution of images captured under low-beam cryo-EM for biomolecules. That understanding leads to treatment developments.

The prizes are named after Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, and have been awarded since 1901 for achievements in science, literature and peace, in accordance with his will.

Previous winners include Marie Curie, known for her pioneering work on radioactivity, and Mario J. Molina, the first person to discover the damaging effect of CFC gases (found in refrigerators and spray cans) on the ozone layer.

Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016 was also awarded to two persons, Fraser Stoddart and Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Ben Feringa "for the design and synthesis of molecular machines".

In case you've not been following, this week has seen the announcements of the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physics on Monday and Tuesday respectively.

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