The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2021
Born: 4 November 1955, New York, NY, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA
Prize motivation: “for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch”
Prize share: 1/2
Our ability to sense heat, cold and touch is essential for survival and underpins our interaction with the world around us. In the late 1990s, David Julius investigated how temperature is translated into nerve impulses. He utilized capsaicin, a compound from chili peppers that induces a burning sensation, and DNA fragments, genes, which are active in heat-sensing neurons. One single gene was able to make cells capsaicin sensitive. Further experiments revealed that the gene encoded a heat-sensing receptor on the neurons.
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