Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1999
Born: 21 May 1936, Waltersdorf (now Niegoslawice), Germany (now Poland)
Died: 18 February 2018, New York, NY, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Rockefeller University, New York, NY, USA
Prize motivation: "for the discovery that proteins have intrinsic signals that govern their transport and localization in the cell."
Prize share: 1/1
Proteins, molecules composed of chains of amino acids, play a crucial role in life processes in our cells. Proteins are continuously being transported through membranes or walls that both separate the cell from its surroundings and separate the inner parts of the cell, the organelles. In 1975 Günter Blobel showed that in certain cases amino acids in a protein serve as an address label that determines where a protein is to be delivered. Amino acid sequences determine whether a protein is to be passed through the membrane out of the cell or into an organelle or is to be built in the membrane.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.