Roger Y. Tsien life and biography

Roger Y. Tsien picture, image, poster

Roger Y. Tsien biography

Date of birth : 1952-02-01
Date of death : -
Birthplace : New York City, New York, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2011-09-23
Credited as : molecular engineer, Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP), Nobel prize for chemistry

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Molecular engineer Roger Y. Tsien has studied and genetically modified Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP), the "glowing proteins" that make some jellyfish and corals luminous. He engineered colorful and fluorescent dyes that have allowed cellular biologists and neurobiologists to follow the flow and behavior of molecules, work which won Tsien the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2008. He has said he decided on a career in science when he was 9 or 10 years old, and he won first prize in a Westinghouse Talent Search when he was 16 years of age, for a project which demonstrated how metals bind to thiocyanate.

He was a co-founder of Aurora Biosciences Corporation, later absorbed into Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and of Senomyx, a company which licenses GFP for applications in flavorings and fragrances. He is a direct descendant of Qian Liu, a tenth century Wuyue emperor whose territory was later subsumed into China. Tsien's father was a cousin of Tsien Hsue-shen, a founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and early leader of the modern Chinese space program.

Tsien and his family are descendants of the royal family of the Kingdom of Wuyue. According to historic records, Tsien is the 34th-generational grandson of the King Qian Liu (Tsien Liu).

He attended Harvard University on a National Merit Scholarship, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa as a junior. He graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and physics in 1972. According to his freshman-year roommate, economist and Iowa politician Herman Quirmbach, "It's probably not an exaggeration to say he's the smartest person I ever met... [a]nd I have met a lot of brilliant people."

Tsien was a Research Fellow at Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge from 1977 to 1981. He was appointed to the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1982 to 1989. Since 1989 he has been working at the University of California, San Diego, as Professor of Pharmacology and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Awards and honors:

Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2008 (with Martin Chalfie and Osamu Shimomura)
Wolf Prize in Medicine 2004 (with Robert A. Weinberg)
Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics 2002
Artois-Baillet-Latour Health Prize 1995
Gairdner Award 1995
Spencer Award in Neurobiology 1991
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Co-Founder of Aurora Biosciences Corporation (1996)
Senomyx Co-Founder (1998)
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator (1989-)
Institute of Medicine
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
National Academy of Sciences 1998
Royal Society Foreign fellow

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