The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1994
Born: 1 December 1925, Baltimore, MD, USA
Died: 7 December 1998, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA
Prize motivation: “for their discovery of G-proteins and the role of these proteins in signal transduction in cells”
Prize share: 1/2
In order for an organism to function, signals are conveyed within and between the body’s various organs and cells through electrical currents and special molecules. Martin Rodbell and Alfred Gilman showed how the signal transfer through the cell wall happens. Around 1970 Rodbell demonstrated that the signal transfer occurs in three steps—reception, transfer and reinforcement—and that guanosine triphosphate is a driving force in the transfer. In 1980 Gilman discovered that molecules involved in the transfer are a type of protein that reacts with GTP—G proteins.