Reactions to the Nobel News
Last week, Kurt Wüthrich, who is Cecil H. and Ida
M. Green Visiting Professor of Structural Biology at The Scripps
Research Institute (TSRI) and a member of TSRI's Department
of Molecular Biology and Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology,
was awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for applying
the technique of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to solving
the structures of biological macromolecules.
News&Views asked Wüthrich (who is also professor
at Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETHZ)
in Switzerland), members of his laboratory, and several of
his colleagues at TSRI where they were when they heard the
announcement and what their initial reaction to the award
Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Visiting Professor
of Structural Biology
I was in a classroom with my students [in Zürich],
getting updated on the research that was being done.
(I had been out of the office for three weeks). My secretary
[abruptly interrupted] and called me out of the room
to tell me the news.
Someone told me later that when they told me, I [just
stood there] and didn't say anything for two minutes
and several seconds. I wasn't aware of that. This is
Chair, Department of Molecular Biology and Cecil
H. and Ida M. Green Investigator in Medical Research
About 8 AM, I was just about to leave for work. I got
a phone call from my administrator, Ruby, who said,
"The press wants to speak to you." I was absolutely
delighted. It was long overdue.
It is not often that these things happen to colleagues,
and it's great to see Kurt get the prize. It's fantastic
for the field of NMR structural biology. It's fantastic
for Scripps. And it's fantastic for Kurt. I'm really
delighted he won the prize.
Kurt's prize is extremely important because it is recognition
for NMR as a method for determining the structures of
biological macromolecules in solution. It really helps
put the field on the map.
Jamie Williamson Professor, Associate Dean
of the Kellogg School of Science and Technology
I heard in the morning when I came to work. Someone
had sent me an email that said, "He did it."
The news brought a smile to my face because he has
been in the running for a long time and he really did
make a fundamental contribution to making NMR something
that people could use. He's the one who got in the trenches
and did protein structures. He is the one who showed
that NMR is really a structural biology tool.
Besides that, he has spent a career advancing the
field to a fine art. And he has solved a lot of structures.
It is about time. This is great for him and uplifting
for the whole field.
Director of Mass Spectrometry
I was at a conference in New Jersey. It was incredible
because they first announced John Fenn, who I know and
who is a great guy. I was still amazed [by] that when
they mentioned Wüthrich. That was fantastic! I
was ecstatic that both Fenn and Wüthrich won and
that the prize went to analytical chemistry.
[NMR and mass spectrometry] are the major analytical
tools in chemistry today. Their impact for every chemist
[and biologist] in the world has been huge.
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