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Osamu Shimomura

Born: 27-Aug-1928
Birthplace: Kyoto, Japan

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: Asian
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Chemist

Nationality: Japan
Executive summary: Green Fluorescent Protein

As a teenager, Osamu Shimomura was blinded for several weeks by the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. After his vision returned he studied biochemistry, and was assigned the challenge of explaining why some sea life glows. It was a subject of more than mere academic interest, as World War II submarines had been located and sunk after their undersea activity triggered flickering luminescence in nearby deep-sea creatures. In 1962, Shimomura discovered Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) in the small, mouse-sized umbrella-shaped glowing jellyfish Aequorea victoria. In order to glow, Aequorea releases calcium ions which bind to a protein that he named aequorin, and that this molecular binding causes a glow. His discovery of GFP and investigations of numerous substrates and enzymes which lead to light emission have made Shimomura the world's preeminent expert on luminescent chemistry. Since his retirement in 2001, he has continued his research in the basement laboratory at his home. In 2008, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Wife: (m., at least two children)
Son: Tsutomu Shimomura (physicist)

    University: BS, Nagasaki College of Pharmacy (1951)
    University: MS Organic Chemistry, Nagoya University (1958)
    University: PhD Organic Chemistry, Nagoya University (1960)
    Scholar: Biology, Princeton University (1960-63)
    Teacher: Chemistry, Nagoya University (1963-65)
    Scholar: Research Biochemistry, Princeton University (1965-80)
    Professor: Organic Chemistry, Boston University (1980-2001)
    Scholar: Marine Biological Laboratory

    Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2008 (with Martin Chalfie and Roger Y. Tsien)
    Asahi Prize 2007
    Pearse Prize 2004
    Japanese Ancestry

Author of books:
Bioluminescence: Chemical Principles and Methods (2006)


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