Long-Time NIH Grantee Stanley B. Prusiner Wins Nobel Prize

October 06, 1997

Stanley B. Prusiner, M.D., a long-time grantee of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is the recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his discovery of an unusual class of infectious particles called prions. Prions are believed to be responsible for a group of diseases that include "mad cow" disease. Prusiner, who is professor of neurology, virology, and biochemistry at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), has received more than 56 million dollars in research grant support from NIH during the last three decades.

"Dr. Prusiner is a pioneer in science and medicine. He introduced a truly new idea to the biology of disease... the idea that a protein can be an infectious agent," says Zach W. Hall, Ph.D., Director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), which has supported Dr. Prusiner since 1975. "His work has turned a once obscure corner of medicine into an important source of new ideas about fundamental biological mechanisms." Dr. Prusiner has received additional funding from the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute for Research Resources, and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, all of which are components of NIH.

Dr. Prusiner led the work that uncovered the nature of prions (a term he coined from "proteinaceous infectious particles"). Prions are unusual infectious particles because, unlike viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites, they contain no DNA or RNA. Instead, they are a type of protein normally found within cells in humans and other organisms, even yeast. In some cases, however, the structure of the prions can change into a disease-causing form. These abnormal proteins appear to convert other, normal prions to the abnormal shape. Many scientists now believe this process leads to several dementing diseases of humans, including Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Similar diseases in animals include bovine spongiform encephalopathy or "mad cow" disease in cattle and scrapie in sheep. Research suggests that a similar change in non-prion proteins may lead to the protein-containing deposits, or plaques, found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. Of the 72 previous American Nobel laureates in physiology or medicine since 1945, more than two-thirds (53) either worked at or were supported by NIH before winning the prize. Since World War II, 115 scientists worldwide were previously awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. More than half of them (63) had prior support from or had worked at NIH before the award.
-end-


NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Related Protein Articles from Brightsurf:

The protein dress of a neuron
New method marks proteins and reveals the receptors in which neurons are dressed

Memory protein
When UC Santa Barbara materials scientist Omar Saleh and graduate student Ian Morgan sought to understand the mechanical behaviors of disordered proteins in the lab, they expected that after being stretched, one particular model protein would snap back instantaneously, like a rubber band.

Diets high in protein, particularly plant protein, linked to lower risk of death
Diets high in protein, particularly plant protein, are associated with a lower risk of death from any cause, finds an analysis of the latest evidence published by The BMJ today.

A new understanding of protein movement
A team of UD engineers has uncovered the role of surface diffusion in protein transport, which could aid biopharmaceutical processing.

A new biotinylation enzyme for analyzing protein-protein interactions
Proteins play roles by interacting with various other proteins. Therefore, interaction analysis is an indispensable technique for studying the function of proteins.

Substituting the next-best protein
Children born with Duchenne muscular dystrophy have a mutation in the X-chromosome gene that would normally code for dystrophin, a protein that provides structural integrity to skeletal muscles.

A direct protein-to-protein binding couples cell survival to cell proliferation
The regulators of apoptosis watch over cell replication and the decision to enter the cell cycle.

A protein that controls inflammation
A study by the research team of Prof. Geert van Loo (VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research) has unraveled a critical molecular mechanism behind autoimmune and inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, and psoriasis.

Resurrecting ancient protein partners reveals origin of protein regulation
After reconstructing the ancient forms of two cellular proteins, scientists discovered the earliest known instance of a complex form of protein regulation.

Sensing protein wellbeing
The folding state of the proteins in live cells often reflect the cell's general health.

Read More: Protein News and Protein Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.