Two Americans and a German won theNobel Prize in Chemistry today for work that allows optical microscopes to study cells in the tiniest molecular detail, aiding in research of diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Eric Betzig, 54, of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Stefan Hell, 51, of theMax Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry and William Moerner, 61, of Stanford University will share the 8 million-krona ($1.1 million) award for their work on super-resolved fluorescence microscopy, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said at a Stockholm news conference today.
“This prize is about seeing,” said Maans Ehrenberg, a professor of molecular biology at Uppsala University and a member of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry. “The laureates have expanded what we can with see with light microscopy from bacteria down to really small molecules.”
In fluorescent microscopy, proteins and other cell components are marked with luminescent molecules. It allows scientists to see molecules create synapses between nerve cells in the brain, as well as monitor the progress of proteins involved in diseases as they clump together, the academy said in a statement.
“Due to their achievements the optical microscope can now peer into the nanoworld,” the academy said. “Today, nanoscopy is used world-wide and new knowledge of greatest benefit to mankind is produced on a daily basis.”