NEW YORK, Oct. 7-Geneticists Sydney Brenner, John Sulston and H. Robert Horvitz were jointly named the 2002 winners of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, the Nobel Assembly announced early this morning.
The researchers were honored for their work in understanding mutations, organ development and programmed cell death in the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans .
Brenner, 75, is a professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences in San Diego, Calif. The Nobel Assembly credited Brenner with establishing C. elegans as a model organism for the study of cell differentiation and organ development. In 1974, he showed that specific gene mutations and their phenotypes could be induced through exposure to ethyl methane sulphonate.
Sulston, 60, researches C. elegans at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. He was the first director of the institute, and stepped down in September 2000. Sulston was recognized for his study of cell division and differentiation, the discovery of normal apoptosis, and for identifying and describing the first mutations in a cell-death related gene.
Horvitz, 55, is at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Horvitz identified the first apoptosis genes in the roundworm, showed how these genes function and found corresponding genes in humans.
The three researchers will share the $1 million prize, which is to be formally awarded in a ceremony in December.