A Chemistry graduate from AUB, Lebanese-Armenian biologist Ardem Patapoutian, holder of American citizenship, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine on the 4th of October, alongside his American colleague David Julius for a discovery deemed revolutionary by the Nobel jury.
The Nobel jury declared that “their revolutionary discovery allowed us to understand how the heat, the cold, and the mechanic forces can initiate nervous impulsions that enable us to adapt to the world.”
In their post announcing the Nobel Laureates Patapoutian and Julius, the Nobel Prize organization wrote:
“Our ability to sense heat, cold, and touch is essential for survival and underpins our interaction with the world around us. In our daily lives we take these sensations for granted, but how are nerve impulses initiated so that temperature and pressure can be perceived? This question has been solved by this year’s Nobel Prize laureates.”
The importance of this scientific discovery, according to the jury, is that Patapoutian and Julius have “identified critical missing links in our understanding of the complex interplay between our senses and the environment.”
Born in Lebanon in 1967, Ardem Patapoutian was a chemistry student in AUB before emigrating to the United States in 1986 where he graduated in 1990 from the University of California.
He then earned a Ph.D. in the California Institute of Technology in 1996.
His scientific discovery has made him the first AUB alumnus to be awarded a Nobel Prize. He was also awarded the Lebanese Order of Merit.