Fleming Contributes to Nobel Prize for Chemistry
The Nobel Prize for Chemistry has been awarded to the Americans Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka, who have spent almost a lifetime researching the human body's response to fear. Adrenalin, which is released when a person experiences fear, affects our cells. “For years the researchers lacked the missing piece of the puzzle to make a conclusive analysis,” says Jan Steyaert, professor in Chemistry at the Free University of Brussels and associated with the Flemish Institute for Biotechnology. “We have now come up with that missing piece.”
He does however not believe he should join the other two on the stage in Stockholm: “This has been a lifelong project for Lefkowitz and Kobilka. They managed to compose a 40-piece puzzle, of which they discovered themselves 30. The other 10 were offered to them by others. We are responsible for merely one piece, albeit a crucial one.” Steyaert is enormously proud of his work and the work performed by the two Americans, and says: “This is also an enormous step for my lab. During the past year I delivered two papers with Kobilka. The fact that we are now linked to Nobel Prize winners will have a huge impact and we will never be required to defend the relevance of our research, as it will be obvious. Raising funds, setting up new businesses; everything will be easier.” Steyaert immediately mailed Lefkowiz and Kobila to congratulate them. “We have a good relationship. On Monday I spent an hour on Skype with Kobilka.” Winning the Nobel Prize did not exactly come as a surprise and Steyaert believes most insiders expected it.