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Structural Biology and Nobel Prizes

The Nobel Prize highlights achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and for peace. Since its inception, many awards have recognized achievements made in molecular biology, structural biology, and related research. Molecule of the Month articles offer a starting point to explore these Prizes.

Myoglobin was the first protein visualized in 3D by X-ray crystallography, laying the foundation for a new era of biological understanding. For this discovery, John Kendrew and Max Perutz shared the 1962 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
YearCategoryPrizeRelated Molecules of the Month articles
2016Physiology or MedicineYoshinori Ohsumi
"for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy"

2015Physiology or MedicineWilliam C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura
"for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites"

Youyou Tu
"for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria"

2015ChemistryTomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar
"for mechanistic studies of DNA repair"

2014ChemistryEric Betzig, Stefan W. Hell and William E. Moerner
"for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy"

2013Physiology or MedicineJames E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman and Thomas C. Südhof
"for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells"

2012ChemistryRobert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka
"for studies of G-protein-coupled receptors"

2011Physiology or MedicineBruce A. Beutler and Jules A. Hoffmann
"for their discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity"

Ralph M. Steinman
"for his discovery of the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity"

2009ChemistryVenkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas A. Steitz and Ada E. Yonath
"for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome"

2008Physiology or MedicineHarald zur Hausen
"for his discovery of human papilloma viruses causing cervical cancer"

Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier
"for their discovery of human immunodeficiency virus"

2008ChemistryOsamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie and Roger Y. Tsien
"for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP"

2006Physiology or MedicineAndrew Z. Fire and Craig C. Mello
"for their discovery of RNA interference - gene silencing by double-stranded RNA"

2006ChemistryRoger D. Kornberg
"for his studies of the molecular basis of eukaryotic transcription"

2005Physiology or MedicineBarry J. Marshall and J. Robin Warren
"for their discovery of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease"

2004ChemistryAaron Ciechanover, Avram Hershko and Irwin Rose "for the discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation"

2003Chemistry"for discoveries concerning channels in cell membranes"

Peter Agre
"for the discovery of water channels"

Roderick MacKinnon
"for structural and mechanistic studies of ion channels"

2002Physiology or MedicineSydney Brenner, H. Robert Horvitz and John E. Sulston
"for their discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death'"

1998Physiology or MedicineRobert F. Furchgott, Louis J. Ignarro and Ferid Murad
"for their discoveries concerning nitric oxide as a signalling molecule in the cardiovascular system"

1997Physiology or MedicineStanley B. Prusiner
"for his discovery of Prions - a new biological principle of infection"

1997ChemistryPaul D. Boyer and John E. Walker
"for their elucidation of the enzymatic mechanism underlying the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)"

Jens C. Skou
"for the first discovery of an ion-transporting enzyme, Na+, K+ -ATPase"

1996Physiology or MedicinePeter C. Doherty and Rolf M. Zinkernagel
"for their discoveries concerning the specificity of the cell mediated immune defence"

1994Physiology or MedicineAlfred G. Gilman and Martin Rodbell
"for their discovery of G-proteins and the role of these proteins in signal transduction in cells"

1993Physiology or MedicineRichard J. Roberts and Phillip A. Sharp
"for their discoveries of split genes"

1992Physiology or MedicineEdmond H. Fischer and Edwin G. Krebs
"for their discoveries concerning reversible protein phosphorylation as a biological regulatory mechanism"

1989Physiology or MedicineJ. Michael Bishop and Harold E. Varmus
"for their discovery of the cellular origin of retroviral oncogenes"

1989ChemistrySidney Altman and Thomas R. Cech
"for their discovery of catalytic properties of RNA"

1988Physiology or MedicineSir James W. Black, Gertrude B. Elion and George H. Hitchings
"for their discoveries of important principles for drug treatment"

1988ChemistryJohann Deisenhofer, Robert Huber and Hartmut Michel
"for the determination of the three-dimensional structure of a photosynthetic reaction centre"

1987Physiology or MedicineSusumu Tonegawa
"for his discovery of the genetic principle for generation of antibody diversity"

1986Physiology or MedicineStanley Cohen and Rita Levi-Montalcini
"for their discoveries of growth factors"

1984Physiology or MedicineNiels K. Jerne, Georges J.F. Köhler and César Milstein
"for theories concerning the specificity in development and control of the immune system and the discovery of the principle for production of monoclonal antibodies"

1983Physiology or MedicineBarbara McClintock
"for her discovery of mobile genetic elements"

1982Physiology or MedicineSune K. Bergström, Bengt I. Samuelsson and John R. Vane
"for their discoveries concerning prostaglandins and related biologically active substances"`

1982ChemistryAaron Klug
"for his development of crystallographic electron microscopy and his structural elucidation of biologically important nucleic acid-protein complexes"

1980Physiology or MedicineBaruj Benacerraf, Jean Dausset and George D. Snell
"for their discoveries concerning genetically determined structures on the cell surface that regulate immunological reactions"

1980ChemistryPaul Berg
"for his fundamental studies of the biochemistry of nucleic acids, with particular regard to recombinant-DNA"

Walter Gilbert and Frederick Sanger
"for their contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids"

1978Physiology or MedicineWerner Arber, Daniel Nathans and Hamilton O. Smith
"for the discovery of restriction enzymes and their application to problems of molecular genetics"

1978ChemistryPeter D. Mitchell
"for his contribution to the understanding of biological energy transfer through the formulation of the chemiosmotic theory

1975Physiology or MedicineDavid Baltimore, Renato Dulbecco and Howard Martin Temin
"for their discoveries concerning the interaction between tumour viruses and the genetic material of the cell"

1972Physiology or MedicineGerald M. Edelman and Rodney R. Porter
"for their discoveries concerning the chemical structure of antibodies"

1972ChemistryChristian B. Anfinsen
"for his work on ribonuclease, especially concerning the connection between the amino acid sequence and the biologically active conformation"

Stanford Moore and William H. Stein
"for their contribution to the understanding of the connection between chemical structure and catalytic activity of the active centre of the ribonuclease molecule"

1971Physiology or MedicineEarl W. Sutherland, Jr.
"for his discoveries concerning the mechanisms of the action of hormones"

1968Physiology or MedicineRobert W. Holley, Har Gobind Khorana and Marshall W. Nirenberg
"for their interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis"

1967Physiology or MedicineRagnar Granit, Haldan Keffer Hartline and George Wald
"for their discoveries concerning the primary physiological and chemical visual processes in the eye"

1965Physiology or MedicineFrançois Jacob, André Lwoff and Jacques Monod
"for their discoveries concerning genetic control of enzyme and virus synthesis"

1964ChemistryDorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin
"for her determinations by X-ray techniques of the structures of important biochemical substances"

1962Physiology or MedicineFrancis Harry Compton Crick, James Dewey Watson and Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins
"for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material"

1962ChemistryMax Ferdinand Perutz and John Cowdery Kendrew
"for their studies of the structures of globular proteins"

1961ChemistryMelvin Calvin
"for his research on the carbon dioxide assimilation in plants"

1959Physiology or MedicineSevero Ochoa and Arthur Kornberg
"for their discovery of the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid"

1958ChemistryFrederick Sanger
"for his work on the structure of proteins, especially that of insulin"

1957ChemistryLord (Alexander R.) Todd
"for his work on nucleotides and nucleotide co-enzymes"

1955ChemistryVincent du Vigneaud
"for his work on biochemically important sulphur compounds, especially for the first synthesis of a polypeptide hormone"

1954Physiology or MedicineJohn Franklin Enders, Thomas Huckle Weller and Frederick Chapman Robbins
"for their discovery of the ability of poliomyelitis viruses to grow in cultures of various types of tissue"

1954ChemistryLinus Carl Pauling
"for his research into the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of the structure of complex substances"

1953Physiology or MedicineHans Adolf Krebs
"for his discovery of the citric acid cycle"

Fritz Albert Lipmann
"for his discovery of co-enzyme A and its importance for intermediary metabolism"

1952Physiology or MedicineSelman Abraham Waksman
"for his discovery of streptomycin, the first antibiotic effective against tuberculosis"

1950Physiology or MedicineEdward Calvin Kendall, Tadeus Reichstein and Philip Showalter Hench
"for their discoveries relating to the hormones of the adrenal cortex, their structure and biological effects"

1947Physiology or MedicineCarl Ferdinand Cori and Gerty Theresa Cori, née Radnitz
"for their discovery of the course of the catalytic conversion of glycogen"

Bernardo Alberto Houssay
"for his discovery of the part played by the hormone of the anterior pituitary lobe in the metabolism of sugar"

1945Physiology or MedicineSir Alexander Fleming, Ernst Boris Chain and Sir Howard Walter Florey
"for the discovery of penicillin and its curative effect in various infectious diseases"

1930Physiology or MedicineKarl Landsteiner
"for his discovery of human blood groups"

1923Physiology or MedicineFrederick Grant Banting and John James Rickard Macleod
"for the discovery of insulin"

Method-related Nobel Prizes

Several awards have recognized the methods and techniques that enable structural biology research.

2013ChemistryMartin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel
"for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems"

2002Chemistry"for the development of methods for identification and structure analyses of biological macromolecules" with one half jointly to John B. Fenn and Koichi Tanaka "for their development of soft desorption ionisation methods for mass spectrometric analyses of biological macromolecules" and the other half to Kurt Wüthrich "for his development of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy for determining the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules in solution"

1991ChemistryRichard R. Ernst
"for his contributions to the development of the methodology of high resolution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy"

1986PhysicsErnst Ruska
"for his fundamental work in electron optics, and for the design of the first electron microscope"
Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer "for their design of the scanning tunneling microscope"

1985ChemistryHerbert A. Hauptman and Jerome Karle
"for their outstanding achievements in the development of direct methods for the determination of crystal structures"

1982ChemistryAaron Klug
"for his development of crystallographic electron microscopy and his structural elucidation of biologically important nucleic acid-protein complexes"

1946ChemistryJames Batcheller Sumner
"for his discovery that enzymes can be crystallized"

John Howard Northrop and Wendell Meredith Stanley
"for their preparation of enzymes and virus proteins in a pure form"

1915PhysicsSir William Henry Bragg and William Lawrence Bragg
"for their services in the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays"

1914PhysicsMax von Laue
"for his discovery of the diffraction of X-rays by crystals"

1901PhysicsWilhelm Conrad Röntgen
in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by the discovery of the remarkable rays subsequently named after him"