A glance at the Nobel Prize for chemistry

October 10, 2012 - 12:35 PM
Nobel Chemistry

In this combination of photos made Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, Duke University professor Robert Lefkowitz, left, is seen at his office in Durham, N.C., and Stanford University professor Brian Kobilka is seen at his home in Palo Alto, Calif., after they were named winners of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The two American researchers won the Nobel Prize in chemistry Wednesday for studies of protein receptors that let body cells sense and respond to outside signals like danger or the flavor of food. Such studies are key for developing better drugs. (AP Photo/Ted Richardson, left; Stanford University, Linda A. Cicero, right)

WHO WON?

Americans Robert Lefkowitz of the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, and Brian Kobilka of the Stanford University School of Medicine in California

FOR WHAT?

The two won the prize for their discoveries in an important family of receptors, known as G-protein-coupled receptors.

THE SIGNIFICANCE?

Learning about G-protein-coupled receptors will help scientists come up with better drugs since about half of all medications including beta blockers and

antihistamines act on these receptors.

WHAT THEY SAID?

Lefkowitz: "I'm feeling very, very excited...I did not hear (the phone ring)...I wear earplugs, so my wife gave me an elbow. And there it was. .... It was a total shock and surprise." Kobilka: "They passed the phone around and congratulated me. I guess they do that so you actually believe them. When one person calls you, it can be a joke, but when five people with convincing Swedish accents call you, then it isn't a joke."