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Roger Y. Tsien (Audio)

Roger Y. Tsien

Science & Medicine

Since the 1990s, Roger Tsien has revolutionized the fields of cell biology and neurobiology by designing fluorescent protein molecules to illuminate biochemical processes. The green fluorescent protein GFP, which occurs naturally in the jellyfish Aequorea Victoria, has been used in biochemical research since the 1960s, but work with GFP was long constrained by its single color and unstable light. Tsien was awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing a kaleidoscopic array of fluorescent molecules. When attached to other, less visible proteins, they enable scientists to track multiple biochemical processes simultaneously. As a teenager, the New York-born Tsien won first prize in the Westinghouse Science Talent Search. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard and earned his Ph.D. in physiology at Cambridge University. Since 1989 he has been a professor at the University of California, San Diego, where he is an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In 1994, Tsien identified a single-point mutation of the natural GFP molecule that produced a more stable and intense light, with greater variability in color, a discovery he reported in the Journal Nature. Over the next decade, he produced variants of GFP in a full spectrum of colors. His molecules are used in surgery and in Alzheimer's and cancer research. He was a co-founder of Aurora Biosciences Corporation, later acquired by Vertex Pharmaceuticals for roughly $600 million. In this podcast, recorded at the Top of the Hay, Hay-Adams Hotel, in Washington, D.C., during the 2012 International Achievement Summit, Dr. Tsien discusses the role of motivation and creativity in relation to his work building artificial molecules.


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Oct 27, 2012
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Oct 27, 2012
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