Michael W. Young
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2017
Born: 28 March 1949, Miami, FL, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Rockefeller University, New York, NY, USA
Prize motivation: “for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm”
Prize share: 1/3
Michael W. Young was born in Miami, Florida, and his family later moved to Dallas, Texas. He studied at the University of Texas and received his doctor’s degree there in 1975. After a stay at the Stanford University School of Medicine, in 1978 he moved to Rockefeller University in New York, which he has been associated with since then. Michael Young is married and has two daughters.
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.