The three scientists used fruit flies to isolate a gene that controls the rhythm of a living organism’s daily life. By examining the internal workings of fruit flies, the investigators helped determine that the gene they were analyzing encoded a protein that accumulated in cells at night, and then degraded during the day. Michael Rosbash, a 73-year-old professor at Brandeis University. Young is at Rockefeller University and Hall has been associated with the University of Maine.
The winners have raised “awareness of the importance of a proper sleep hygiene” said Juleen Zierath of the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute, which chooses the laureates. The discoveries had opened up a whole new field of study for biology and medicine. “Until then, the body clock was viewed as a sort of black box. We knew nothing about its operation. But what they did was get the genes that made the body clock, and once you’ve got the genes, you can take the field wherever you want to,” Michael Hastings, a scientist at the U.K. Medical Research Council said to the media.