Awards and Prizes

Another Nobel Prize involving crystallography

[MacKinnon] Roderick MacKinnon
[Agre] Peter Agre

Two Americans won the 2003 Nobel chemistry prize resently for studies of tiny molecular channels in cells that could lead to better treatment of disorders of muscles, including the heart, and other ailments.

The prize went to Roderick MacKinnon, a biophysicist at The Rockefeller U. in Manhattan, and Peter Agre a professor of biological chemistry and medicine at Johns Hopkins U. in Baltimore.

[Dividing cell wall] The dividing wall between the cell and the outside world – including other cells – is far from being an impervious shell. On the contrary, it is perforated by various channels. Many of these are specially adapted to one specific ion or molecule and do not permit any other type to pass. To the left we see a water channel and to the right an ion channel.

The two were honored for studies of in membrane channels that transport water molecules and ions. The work opens the door to further research on disorders in which the channels fail to operate properly, including diseases of the nervous system and muscles including the heart.

The image and photo of Dr. Agre were taken from www.hopkinsmedicine.org/press/2003/October/031008A.htm, the photo of Dr. MacKinnon was taken from the website www.rockefeller.edu/pubinfo/profilemackinnon.html