Nobel laureate Ardem Patapoutian’s journey to the prize began in Beirut

He and his family moved to Los Angeles, United States, where Patapoutian received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1990 and earned his doctorate. in Evolutionary Biology from the California Institute of Technology in 1996. He is currently a professor at the Scripps Research Institute in California.

Nobel Prize-winning discoveries

Patapoutian and this year’s award co-winner David Julius, professor of physiology at the University of California, San Francisco, were honored for the discoveries they made independently of each other about how the body human perceives temperature and touch.

“Dr. Patapoutian, along with Dr. David Julius, unraveled one of the mysteries of life, how do we feel temperature and pressure,” said Peter Schultz, President and CEO of the Scripps Research Institute, in a statement. Press release. He went on to describe Patapoutian as “an amazing scientist, mentor and colleague and a wonderful person”.

The statement quoted Patapoutian as saying, “I certainly could never have imagined this day. More than that, I could never have imagined this life in science.

Simple questions, complex findings

Ardem Patapoutian began his research with a fundamental question on the perception of mechanical stimuli such as pressure and touch. Although it seems a simple question, Patapoutian’s relentless pursuit has ended with continuous and renewed discoveries.

His most important discovery is that of a new class of receptors in the skin and internal organs that respond to mechanical stimuli. Later, Patapoutian and collaborators in his laboratory discovered how these receptors control a wide range of biological needs of the body’s organs and their role in intercellular communication.

“We’re talking about a key that unlocks a door that opens into a room. These receptors are the key to understanding biology and disease, ”Patapoutian said in an interview with Scripps Research.

The “Piezo1” ion channel, one of the receptors discovered by Patapoutian, plays a role in protecting against malaria and affects the amount of iron in the blood, he said. Receptors may also be involved in tracking the stretch of the stomach during a meal and the amount of food that passes through the intestine during digestion.

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