Three scientists have been awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, presented Wednesday. The three scientists were awarded the prize “for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP.” Originally observed in jellyfish, GFP is now one of the most important tools used in contemporary bioscience.The prize was awarded to Osamu Shimomura of Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, and Boston University Medical School, Martin Chalfie of Columbia University, New York and to Roger Y. Tsien, University of California, San Diego.
The brightly glowing green fluorescent protein, GFP, was first observed in the jellyfish Aequorea Victoria, in 1962. Since then, researchers have developed GFP so that it allows biologists to view processes that were once invisible. This is useful in witnessing the development or deterioration of nerve cells in the brain or watching how cancer cells spread.
Dr. Shimomura was first able to identify the protein and then show how it would glow bright green under an ultraviolet light. Dr. Chalfie took it a step further and showed how the protein could be used as a biological indicator tag once inserted into the DNA of an organism. Finally, Dr. Tsien was able to make the protein glow different colors so that biologists could track multiple processes at once.
Three Nobel prizes are stills to be awarded this year: Literature on October the 9th, Peace on Friday October the 10th, and Economics the following Monday.