Nobel Prize In Chemistry 2017 Awarded For Imaging The Molecules Of Life

Martin Luther King woken up by Stockholm's Lucia in 1964

Martin Luther King woken up by Stockholm's Lucia in 1964

Joachim Frank demonstrated that potential to NSF in 1984, when the agency helped him acquire a high-resolution electron microscope for 3-D reconstruction, and then continued to support his development of new applications for the technology over the following decades. Joachim Frank, a professor at Colombia University in NY, expanded on electron microscopy, making it more flexible and more widely applicable. The benchmark for excellence in the domain of science is the Nobel Prize which is awarded for innovative ventures in Science and this time no exception.

In case you've not been following, this week has seen the announcements of the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physics on Monday and Tuesday respectively.

Henderson took a major step forward when he placed a bacterial cell membrane containing millions of molecules called bacteriorhodopsin into an electron microscope.

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Richard Henderson abandoned X-ray crystallography and resorted to imaging proteins using transmission electron microscopy - in which, instead of light, a thin beam of electrons is sent through the specimen. Typically, in an electron microscope, water will cause biomolecules to collapse.

Cryo-electron microscopy was recently used to study the biomolecules linked to the Zika virus, which is responsible for cases of extremely small heads in newborn babies in Brazil and several other Latin American nations.

Depiction of Zika virus cryo-EM structureWIKIMEDIA, STARLESSLast year, Henderson won the Royal Society's Copley Medal, the world's oldest scientific prize, for his work on imaging techniques.

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Dubochet, an honorary professor at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, worked on making biomolecules stable enough to resist electron microscopy. It was a bit of a special case, because of the ordered arrangement of the proteins in the cell membrane, but in principle this approach could be used for any molecule found in cells. In the early 1980s, Dubochet succeeded in vitrifying water - he cooled water so rapidly that it solidified in its liquid form around a biological sample, allowing the biomolecules to retain their natural shape even in a vacuum.

"And as a biologist, I can say that the pictures are handsome", he said.

The prize comes with nine million Swedish kronor (around Dollars 1.1 million or 943,100 euros).

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