Statement by Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley on Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The 2017 Nobel Prize winners in Chemistry have contributed significantly to the field of biochemistry with innovative research that will contribute to the defeat of major health threats in the U.S. and abroad. Dr. Joachim Frank of Columbia University, Dr. Jacques Dubochet of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, and Dr. Richard Henderson of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England, are recognized for their accomplishments in cryo-electron microscopy which improves imaging of biomolecules, illuminating aspects of cells that were previously difficult to view. Dr. Frank, who received funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) over many years, is known for constructing sharp three-dimensional images of biological molecules.

The technology has supported research into the Zika virus, allowing scientists to analyze the structure of the mosquito-borne virus which causes birth defects. The NIH is investing in cryo-electron microscopy and training researchers to utilize this advanced technology to increase our understanding of diseases like Alzheimer’s and identify molecular targets critical for drug development. We salute the pioneering efforts of the Nobel winners and urge Congress to fund research that will lead to more achievements in cryo-electron microscopy, which could open new pathways in the development of vaccines and other life-saving therapies.

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