A La Jolla Scientist Was Just Awarded the Nobel Prize

Add Dr. Patapoutian to the list of La Jollans who have made an impact on the world.

He and another scientist received the Nobel Prize award in medicine for their research on how the human body experiences temperature and touch, findings that could lead to potential treatment for pain and perhaps heart disease.

Dr. Ardem Patapoutian

The Nobel Committee spoke with NBC 7 San Diego, explaining that Ardem Patapoutian, 53, a professor of neuroscience at Scripps Research in La Jolla and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute scientist, was chosen to utilize pressure-sensitive cells to create a group of receptors that react to mechanical stimuli in the skin and internal organs. 

In this research, Patapoutian found that two ion channels are required for human senses and affect other physiological processes such as blood pressure and bladder control. Patapoutian’s revelation sparked a flurry of studies from his and other organizations revealing that the Piezo2 ion channel is critical for touch perception. Furthermore, Piezo2 has demonstrated a fundamental part in the crucial body position and motion known as proprioception.

Dr. Patapoutian On What it Felt Like to Receive the Call

In this short interview with the Nobel Prize website, Dr. Patapoutian describes what it felt like to receive the phone call that told him he won.

Dr. David Julius

Alongside Ardem Patapoutian is David Julius, 66, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, recognized for discovering a heat-sensitive sensor in nerve endings utilizing capsaicin, a chemical found in chili peppers. Because pain has a psychological component, recognizing its reaction in the body is not always sufficient to alleviate it. Nonetheless, the findings of Drs. Julius and Patapoutian will aid the medical community in better treating pain.

Dr. Patapoutian and Dr. Julius solved one of life’s greatest mysteries: how do humans experience temperature and pressure? This finding truly reveals one of nature’s secrets. Understanding how human bodies perceive these changes is critical because scientists can then target those molecules. It is as if humans discovered a puzzle and now know the exact pieces that will fit perfectly. It is vital to survival. Therefore it is a huge and life-changing breakthrough. The Nobel Prize is a tremendous honor for these accomplishments.

Press Conference with Dr. Patapoutian

Watch the press conference with Dr. Patapoutian, in which he talks about being awarded the Nobel Prize.

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