Jeffrey C. Hall
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2017
Born: 3 May 1945, New York, NY, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Maine, Maine, ME, USA
Prize motivation: "for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm."
Prize share: 1/3
Jeffrey Hall was born in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up outside of Washington, DC. After studies at Amherst College, he went on to the University of Washington in Seattle, where he earned his doctor’s degree in 1971. After a stay at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, he began work in 1974 at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
In our cells an internal clock helps us to adapt our biological rhythm to the different phases of day and night. Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young studied fruit flies to figure out how this clock works. In 1984 they managed to identify a gene that encodes a protein that accumulates during the night but is degraded during the day. They also identified additional proteins that form part of a self-regulating biological clockwork in the fruit fly's cells. The same principles have been shown to apply to other animals and plants.