Statement by Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley on Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Research!America applauds the 2017 Nobel Prize winners in Physiology or Medicine for their remarkable discoveries of the molecular mechanisms controlling our ‘biological clock,’ critical as it is to maintaining health and well-being. The scientific achievements of Dr. Jeffrey Hall of the University of Maine, Dr. Michael Rosbash of Brandeis University and Dr. Michael Young of Rockefeller University, supported by the National Institutes of Health for several decades, led to the discovery of the gene that controls circadian rhythms and physiology including blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature – conditions linked to risks for diabetes, obesity, cancer and cardiovascular disease. The Nobel winners also discovered that light influences our 24-hour rhythm, affecting our sleep cycle, alertness and overall health.
Their work, which involved examining fruit flies, underscores the value of basic science in contributing to the study of fundamental biological processes to prevent and treat disease. A majority of Americans (63%) agree that even if it brings no immediate benefits, basic scientific research that advances the frontier of knowledge is necessary and should be supported by the federal government, according to a survey commissioned by Research!America. We salute the perseverance of Drs. Hall, Rosbash and Young in a field that has paved the way for the development of innovative treatments resulting from federally-funded research.