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10/20/08

WHAT A RIP OFF SCIENTIST WHO HELPED DISCOVER GFP JELLYFISH GENE RESULTING IN NOBEL PRIZE VALUE MEDICAL DISCOVERY GETS BUPKIS

WHAT A RIP OFF SCIENTIST WHO HELPED DISCOVER GFP JELLYFISH GENE RESULTING IN NOBEL PRIZE VALUE MEDICAL DISCOVERY GETS BUPKIS


The "scientist who provided an essential piece of the knowledge about the jellyfish gene that codes for the luminescent gfp protein (green fluorescent protein) used in medical research, the basis for the 2008 Nobel Prize in Medicine" now drives a van for a car dealer. An amazing, shocking and flabbergasting story about Dr. Douglas Prasher appears in the NY Times. As my colleagues on the streets outside the hallowed halls of science might say, what a rip-off!

Many sea creatures have the ability to fluoresce or shine in the dark. By figuring out how some of them do this, scientists developed a tool that has found wide uses in biomedical research. "Douglas C. Prasher, who conducted his research on the Aequorea victoria jellyfish while at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts in the early 1990s, now drives a courtesy van for a car dealer in Huntsville, Ala., earning $10 an hour. He said he was not bitter or jealous of this year’s winning chemistry Nobelists: Dr. Tsien of the University of California, San Diego, Dr. Chalfie of Columbia and Osamu Shimomura, the original discoverer of the jellyfish protein in 1961".

If you watch Nova and Discovery you may envision science as being conducted in a logical and deliberate manner by thousands of Mr. Spock like researchers. No place for emotion, vanity or just plain nastiness. Scientists formulate a hypothesis and they test the hypothesis. Or at least that's what you believe, at least if you are in third grade. The reality may be something else again. Ever hear of publish or perish? In the real world a lot of science and scientist's career advancement depends on how much money you can bring in via grants and that in turn may directly effect your chances of tenure.

"In a couple of months, Roger Y. Tsien and Martin Chalfie will head to Stockholm to collect the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and $450,000 each in prize money in recognition of their development of a revolutionary technique that lights up the inner workings of living cells. Meanwhile, the scientist who provided the essential piece that made Dr. Tsien’s and Dr. Chalfie’s work possible — a jellyfish gene" that produces a flourescent light drives a van for a car dealer".
  • Man Who Set Stage for a Nobel Now Lives a Life Outside Science
  • More About GFP from Dr. Zimmer: Green Fluorescent Protein History
  • Primary structure of the Aequorea victoria green-fluorescent protein.
  • Watching Life in Real Time
  • Glowing Gene's Discoverer Left Out Of Nobel Prize