In DepthNobel Prizes

Revelations about rhythm of life rewarded

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Science  06 Oct 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6359, pp. 18
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6359.18

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This year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Jeffrey Hall and Michael Rosbash of Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, and Michael Young of The Rockefeller University in New York City for work that showed how several genes work together to control the basic circadian clock of animals. Similar clocks are ticking inside fungi, plants, protozoa, and some bacteria. Researchers have since found half a dozen more genes that regulate and synchronize the cycle. In recent years, researchers have found that the clock is related not only to the human sleep cycle, but also to metabolism and brain function. The findings opened up a massive new research field called circadian biology. Biological clock genes affect the activity of most other genes in the body in one way or another, influencing metabolism, blood pressure, body temperature, inflammation, and brain function.