MBL | Biological Discovery in Woods Hole Contact UsDirectionsText SizeSmallMediumLarge

Resources for Reporters:

MBL Publications:

Join the Conversation:
Facebook Twitter Youtube Wordpress

Nobel Laureates

press releases

For further information, contact the MBL Communications Office at (508) 289-7423 or e-mail us at comm@mbl.edu

For Immediate Release: October 13, 2009
Contacts: Diana Kenney, 508-289-7139 or 508-289-7423; dkenney@mbl.edu

Three of the 2009 Nobel Prize Laureates Have Ties to the MBL


Complete List of Nobel Laureates Affiliated with the MBL

MBL Physiology course

MBL, WOODS HOLE, MA—Three of the Nobel Prize Laureates announced last week affiliations at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole.

One of the recipients of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, Jack W. Szostak of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, taught in the MBL Physiology course in 1982, a banner year for that course. That year, the faculty also included Roger Kornberg (Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2006), Tim Hunt (Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2001), Leland Hartwell (Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2001) and Gary Borisy, current director and CEO of the MBL.

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was shared by Szostak, Elizabeth H. Blackburn of University of California, San Francisco, and Carol W. Greider of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. According to the Nobel Foundation, the three scientists “solved a major problem in biology: how the chromosomes can be copied in a complete way during cell divisions and how they are protected against degradation. The Nobel Laureates have shown that the solution is to be found in the ends of the chromosomes – the telomeres – and in an enzyme that forms them – telomerase.” Their finding has had important consequences for research on cancer and on aging.

Two recipients of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry also have MBL ties. Thomas A. Steitz of Yale University was on the faculty of the MBL Physiology course in 1981. And Ada E. Yonath of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, was an independent investigator at the MBL in 1969.

Steitz and Yonath shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, U.K. The three were recognized for their discoveries related to the structure and function of the ribosome. Ribosomes exist in all cells in all living organisms, from bacteria to human beings. Their role is to translate DNA information in order to produce proteins, which in turn control life in the organism.

“As no living creature can survive without ribosomes, they are the perfect targets for drugs. Many of today’s antibiotics attack the ribosomes of bacteria, but leave those of humans alone. The knowledge that this year’s Nobel Laureates provide can thus be of substantial value for the development of new antibiotics,” the Nobel Foundation stated in its announcement of the Chemistry prize.


The MBL is a leading international, independent, nonprofit institution dedicated to discovery and to improving the human condition through creative research and education in the biological, biomedical and environmental sciences. Founded in 1888 as the Marine Biological Laboratory, the MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the Americas. For more information, visit www.MBL.edu.