Chemistry Noble Prize 2012

103 Nobel Prizes in Chemistry have been awarded since 1901. It was not awarded on eight occasions: in 1916, 1917, 1919, 1924, 1933, 1940, 1941 and 1942.The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences is responsible for the selection of the Nobel Laureates in Chemistry. The Academy has 350 Swedish and 164 foreign members. Membership in the Academy constitutes exclusive recognition of successful research achievements. The Academy appoints members of the Nobel Committee, the working body, for a three-year term.Each award is worth 8 million kronor, or about $1.2 million. The awards are always handed out on Dec. 10, the anniversary of Nobel’s death in 1896.

Research by Robert J. Lefkowitz, left, and Brian K. Kobilka has increased understanding of how cells sense chemicals.

Americans Robert J Lefkowitz and Brian K Kobilka have won this year’s chemistry Nobel for their work on G-protein-coupled receptors, which allow cells to sense light, flavour, odour and receive signals from hormones and neurotransmitters.Research spanning four decades by Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka on “G-protein-coupled receptors” has increased understanding of how cells sense chemicals in the bloodstream and external stimuli like light.

About half of all medications act on these receptors, so learning about them will help scientists to come up with better drugs. The human body has about 1,000 kinds of such receptors, which let it respond to a wide variety of chemical signals, like adrenaline. Some receptors are in the nose, tongue and eyes, and let us sense smells, tastes and vision.

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