David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian have won the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology. Awarded for their discoveries related to how the human body perceives touch and temperature known as somatosensation, secretary general of the Nobel Committee, Thomas Perlmann calls the pair’s work “crucial for our survival., a very profound discovery”.
David Julius was awarded the Canada Gairdner International Award in 2017 for the same body of work, using distinctive molecules from the natural world – including toxins from tarantulas and coral snakes, and capsaicin, the molecule that produces the “heat” in chili peppers – to understand how signals responsible for temperature and pain sensation are transmitted by neural circuits to the brain. His work helps to explain how such positive and negative aspects of pain sensation arise – insight that is critical to understanding the genesis of chronic pain syndromes.
Dr. Julius becomes the 96th Canada Gairdner Award laureate to go on to win the Nobel Prize.
A hearty congratulations to Drs. Julius and Patapoutian!
Photo: David Julius, PhD, in his office at UCSF Mission Bay. Photo by Steve Babuljak