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Title: GFP: Lighting up Life
Originating Office: IAS
Speaker: Chalfie, Martin
Issue Date: 27-Jan-2014
Event Date: 27-Jan-2014
Group/Series/Folder: Record Group 8.15 - Institute for Advanced Study
Series 3 - Audio-visual Materials
Location: 8.15:3 EF
Notes: IAS Nobel Lecture.
Title from opening screen.
Abstract: The great American baseball player Yogi Berra once said, 'You can observe a lot by watching.' Unfortunately, before the early 1990s observations in the biological sciences were usually done on dead specimens that were specially prepared and permeabilized to allow entry of reagents to stain cell components. These methods allowed a glimpse of what cells were doing, but they gave a necessarily static view of life, just snapshots in time. Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) and other fluorescent proteins revolutionized the biological sciences because these proteins allowed scientists to look at the inner workings of living cells. GFP can be used to tell where genes are turned on, where proteins are located within tissues, and how cell activities change over time. Once a cell can be seen, it can be studied and manipulated. The story of the discovery and development of GFP also provides a very nice example of how scientific progress is often made: through accidental discoveries, the willingness to ignore previous assumptions and take chances, and the combined efforts of many people. The story of GFP also shows the importance of basic research on non-traditional organisms.
Prof Martin Chalfie received his PhD from Harvard University and did his postdoctoral research at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge. He joined the faculty of Columbia University as an Assistant Professor in 1982 and has been there ever since. He is currently the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Biological Sciences at Columbia.
Prof Chalfie uses the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to investigate nerve cell development and function, concentrating primarily on genes used in mechanosensory neurons. His research has been directed toward answering two quite different biological questions: How do different types of nerve cells acquire and maintain their unique characteristics? And How do sensory cells respond to mechanical signals? In the course of his studies, he has introduced several novel biological methods in addition to his work with the Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP).
In 2008, Prof Chalfie shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Osamu Shimomura and Roger Y. Tsien for his introduction of GFP as a biological marker. He also shared the 2006 Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Science from Brandeis University and the 2008 E. B. Wilson Medal from the American Society for Cell Biology with Roger Y. Tsien. He is a Member of the US National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Duration: 95 min.
Appears in Series:8.15:3 - Audio-visual Materials
Videos for Public -- Distinguished Lectures