October 7th, 2009 | Uncategorized

Steitz wins Nobel Prize for Chemistry

Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry Thomas Steitz is one of the three winners of this year’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced today. Steitz garnered the award in recognition of his work mapping out the ribosome. (Humanities majors: that’s the part of a cell that produces protein.)

Steitz — along with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan of the MRC Laboratory in Molecular Biology in Cambridge and Ada E. Yonath from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel — now has an invitation to the prize ceremony in Stockholm on Dec. 10. The three winners will also be splitting a $1.4 million prize.

Steitz’s research focused on mapping out the atomic makeup of atoms, using a method called X-ray crystallography. Steitz, Ramakrishnan and Yonath created 3-D models showing how different antibiotics bind to ribosomes — and those models could help scientists to discover better antibiotics to combat some of the world’s most harmful diseases.

Steitz, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, is originally from Milwaukee. Alas, he’s a Harvard grad — he received a degree in molecular biology and biochemistry there in 1966. There will be a press conference at noon today in the President’s Room of Woolsey Hall, so stay tuned for more details.

  • Hopeful

    US News & World Report, are you paying attention to this?

  • YUP



    LIVE IT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Arkie_in_CT

    Correction Needed? Do you mean Prof. Steitz uses X-ray Crystallography to investigate the atomic structure of PROTEINS, maybe? If he were investigating the atomic structure of ATOMS, he’d be a physics professor, most likely. X-ray Crystallography is, in fact, used to investigate the atomic structure of proteins, DNA, and other mega-molecules common to biochemistry.

  • Arkie_in_CT

    PS: Not meaning to be a grump with the prior corrective comment. I was THRILLED to hear on the news this evening that Prof. Steitz was named as a Nobel laureate. Huzzah for him and for Yale. :)

  • Sam Adams in Md

    Dr. Steitz also made seminal discoveries
    about the structure of various polymerases, including HIV-1 Reverse Transcriptase. This structure has influenced how
    investigators view the nonfidelity of this enzyme. It is known to cause significant mutation, especially in the envelope gene of this virulent genome.