Sat | Oct 20, 2018

Nobel winner Young: Body clocks are the future

Published:Tuesday | October 3, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Michael Young gestures while talking during a news conference yesterday, at Rockefeller University in New York after winning the Nobel Prize in medicine with colleagues Jeffrey Hall and Michael Rosbash.


At a Rockefeller University news conference in New York, Nobel Prize winner Michael Young said the news of the award came as a shock.

He says "This really did take me by surprise. I had trouble even getting my shoes on this morning."

Young won the Nobel yesterday with fellow Americans Michael Rosbash and Jeffrey Hall for their discoveries about the body's biological clock. He said their research had disclosed "a beautiful mechanism" for how genes controlled body clocks.

Asked about possible medical payoffs from the work, he said "we're just starting with this." But he noted that a genetic mutation has been found in some people who have chronic trouble getting to sleep at night.

Young says this "gives us ways of thinking we didn't have before ... I think we're going to run into this over and over."

Jeffrey Hall, 72 wryly noted that he was already awake when he received the call from Sweden about his Nobel Prize in medicine because of changes in his circadian rhythm as he has grown older.

Speaking from his home in rural Cambridge, Maine, he says "I said 'Is this a prank?' I didn't really believe it. I didn't expect it."

Hall said scientists have known about circadian rhythms since the 1700s. He said understanding the mechanics of the circadian rhythm can provide researchers with an opportunity to address circadian rhythm disorders that contribute to sleep problems.

Nobel Medicine winner Michael Rosbash says, at 73, it's usually never good to get a call at 5:09 a.m. on your landline.

He told The Associated Press yesterday that "when the landline rings at that hour, normally it's because someone died."

Then, on finding out that he had won a Nobel Prize: "I was stunned, shocked."