This week has been Nobel week, as the various Nobel Prizes have been announced. (I see this morning that Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio has won the Nobel for Literature. I guess Americans really are insular – I had not heard of this author before.) The Nobel Prize for Chemistry went to Roger Tsien of UC – San Diego, Martin Chalfie of Columbia, and Osamu Shimomura, of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, for their work in using a glowing jellyfish gene to make proteins visible under UV light, greatly enhancing researchers’ ability to track them.
This morning, NPR ran a story about Douglas Prasher, the scientist who actually discovered the gene and provided it to Tsien and Chalfie. Since then, he lost his grant funding, then later was laid off by a NASA contractor, and now works for a car dealership, driving a courtesy shuttle, and barely making ends meet. Prasher calls himself a “hard luck story,” but sounds like he has as good an attitude as one might expect in the circumstances. Here’s hoping that the NPR story will lead to Prasher getting new work that better fits his qualifications.