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Alfred Gilman Dies

Alfred Gilman, who shared the Nobel Prize in 1994 for his discovery of G proteins, has died, the New York Times reports. He was 74.

While at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in the 1970s, Gilman was studying leukemia cells and discovered that they didn't respond to external hormone signals. He and his team then found that the cancer cells lost a certain protein that, when restored, acted as a signal transducer, the Times says. These G-proteins are an integral part of cell communication. Gilman shared the Nobel with Martin Rodbell, who had teased out other steps of signal transduction.

"The mechanism that he found explains how many drugs act, it explains how many hormones act and it basically explains how the body responds to its environment," Michael Brown, who worked in the lab next to Gilman's at University of Texas Southwestern, tells the Associated Press.

Gilman later moved to the University of Texas Southwestern, and in 2009, became the chief scientific officer of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas in 2009, but resigned a few years later, citing concerns regarding a lack of peer review there. This led to a scandal and an investigation, the Los Angeles Times adds, and prosecutors charged an executive over some $11 million that was awarded to a company without review. The executive was acquitted.

"Al Gilman hated sloppy or phony science and he was compelled to speak out whenever he saw it," Brown adds at the LA Times. "Sometimes it was very inconvenient for him, but his conscience made him do it."