Stanley B. Prusiner
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1997
Born: 28 May 1942, Des Moines, IA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco, CA, USA
Prize motivation: "for his discovery of Prions - a new biological principle of infection."
Prize share: 1/1
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and related illnesses affecting people and animals involve the degeneration of brain cells. In 1982 Stanley Prusiner was able to isolate a suspected infectious agent, a protein that he called a prion. He identified the gene behind the prion protein, but determined that it is also present in healthy people and animals. Stanley Prusiner showed that the prion molecules are folded in a different way than the normal proteins and that the folding of the prion can be transferred to normal proteins. This is the basis for the illness.