Stumbling across water channels, and a Nobel Prize

     
   

In two talks on campus in March Peter C. Agre, M.D., noted with amusement that when he was applying to medical schools, Yale turned him down. And, in an equally self-effacing vein, when he described the work that won him a share of the 2003 Nobel Prize in chemistry, he attributed it to “blind luck.”

Agre, a professor of medicine and biological chemistry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, described his groundbreaking research in similar terms at the 12th annual Robert W. Berliner Memorial Lecture and at the 56th annual meeting of the Associates of the Cushing/ Whitney Medical Library. “We weren’t even looking for water channels,” he said of his discovery that explained how water crosses biological membranes. Agre was studying Rh blood group antigens and became curious about a mysterious protein that kept turning up in his experiments. He detoured from his original research and identified the first of a family of water channel proteins, which he dubbed aquaporins.

“It’s sort of like driving in a remote part of Vermont and coming upon a city of 200,000 people that’s not on the map,” he said.


 

Other On Campus


Merging data sets to fight human disease

Merging data sets to fight human disease

The sequencing of the human genome has spawned a wealth of knowledge, much of it now available...

Read more...


Biomedical research for the world’s neediest

Biomedical research for the world’s neediest

In 1990 a drug called eflornithine came on the market to treat African sleeping sickness. But a...

Read more...


With acupuncture, an integrated view of the body

Acupuncture entered the American consciousness in 1972, when a journalist on President Nixon’s trip...

Read more...

Download on the Apple App Store