Three scientists share the 2013 Nobel Prize for medicine

The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet of Sweden has decided to award the 2013 Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology to three scientists who have revealed the mystery of how the ‘vesicle’ organizes its transport system, it was announced on Monday.

The recipients, James Rothman and Randy Schekman from the United States and German-born Thomas Sudhof, will jointly share the coveted prize.

Rothman, 62, is a professor and chairman in the department of cell biology at Yale University, while Schekman, 64, is a professor in the department of molecular and cell biology at the University of California at Berkeley, and Sudhof, 57, is a professor of molecular and cellular physiology at Stanford University.

According to the Nobel committee, the trio of scientists research on “vesicle traffic” revealed “the molecular principles that govern how this cargo is delivered to the right place at the right time in the cell.”

Vesicles are tiny bubbles of fat that perform a variety of functions and are involved in metabolism, transport, buoyancy control and enzyme storage, and they carry neurotransmitters and hormones around the cell or they can fuse with the outer surface of the cell and release their contents into the wider body.

Rothman showed how protein machinery allows vesicles in cells to fuse with their targets to permit the transfer of molecular cargo, while Schekman, discovered a set of genes required for the "vesicle traffic," and Sudhof discovered how vesicles are instructed precisely when to release molecules.

A defective vesicle transport system can contribute to conditions such as neurological diseases, diabetes, and immunological disorders.

The three winners will share a prize of about $1.2 million, with around $413,600 going to each of the scientists.

The winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics will be announced today, followed by those for Chemistry on Wednesday, Literature on Thursday, Peace on Friday, and Economics next Monday.

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