Two Jewish American scientists were among three recipients of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work on the transportation of materials within cells.
James Rothman of Yale and Randy Schekman of Berkeley, California, scooped the coveted prize together with German-born Thomas Sudhof.
The trio shed light on the internal “package delivery” system of the cell which ensures that vital chemicals are delivered to the correct cellular address at the right time.
Schekman’s pioneering work on yeast cells in the 1970s revealed the genes that played a crucial role in this transport system, with mutant cells leading to congestion within the cell.
Similarly, Rothman’s work on mammal cells in the 1980s and 1990s and showed how proteins enabled vesicles to ‘dock’ and fuse with their target sites within a cell.
“Together, Rothman, Schekmand and Südhof have transformed the way we view transport of molecular cargo to specific destinations inside and outside the cell,” said the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
On news of his winning, Prof. Schekman said: “My first reaction was ‘Oh, my God! That was also my second reaction.”