News & Views item - October 2013



2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine Announced. (October 8, 2013)

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2013 was awarded jointly to James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman and Thomas C. Südhof  for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells.





 The 2013 Nobel Prize honours three scientists who have solved the mystery of how the cell organizes its transport system. Each cell is a factory that produces and exports molecules. For instance, insulin is manufactured and released into the blood and chemical signals called neurotransmitters are sent from one nerve cell to another. These molecules are transported around the cell in small packages called vesicles. The three Nobel Laureates have discovered the molecular principles that govern how this cargo is delivered to the right place at the right time in the cell.

Randy Schekman discovered a set of genes that were required for vesicle traffic. James Rothman unravelled protein machinery that allows vesicles to fuse with their targets to permit transfer of cargo. Thomas Südhof revealed how signals instruct vesicles to release their cargo with precision.


William Wickner, a biochemist at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, New Hampshire told Nature: "It’s a fantastic story — it’s how in a relatively short time frame, 25 or 30 years, we’ve gone from knowing almost nothing about how membrane trafficking occurs in cells to knowing the proteins and actors and having a reasonable idea of how they act. These three are responsible for major, major advances.”

Through their discoveries, Rothman, Schekman and Südhof have revealed the exquisitely precise control system for the transport and delivery of cellular cargo. Disturbances in this system have deleterious effects and contribute to conditions such as neurological diseases, diabetes, and immunological disorders.

Click Here for the full Announcement.


To watch the YouTube recording of the announcement Click Here. It takes up the first 20 minutes of the video then skip to 33'40" to go to the post announcement discussion.