Jacques Dubochet, Professor UNIL, receives the Nobel Prize in Chemistry

The Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences announced on Tuesday (October 4th) the names of the winners of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. These include Jacques Dubochet from the University of Lausanne, Joachim Frank from Columbia University in the United States and Richard Henderson from the Molecular Biology Laboratory in Cambridge, England.

Jacques Dubochet gave a lecture at UNIL. He opened his speech with humor: “A scientific prize is an ambiguous thing. It highlights an individual, while he should put forward a collective. The Academy honors us for a job done 30 years ago. Because we invented cold water” he said, laughing.

The three researchers are rewarded for their work in electronic cryomicroscopy. “Biochemical maps have long been filled with white spaces. Electronic cryomicroscopy changes everything. Researchers can now freeze biomolecules mid-range and visualize processes they have never seen before. This technology simplifies and improves both the imaging of biomolecules. It transports biochemistry into a new era.” the statement of the Swedish institution said.

To the question of how the idea came to the researchers, Jacques Dubochet answered that under the microscope, air is opaque to electrons. So they chose to use water. “We had to find how to handle the drying, since the water evaporates. We had the idea of ​​freezing it. ”

Jacques Dubochet was born in Aigle on 8 June 1942. He obtained his doctorate in 1973 from the universities of Geneva and Basel. He became a professor at the University of Lausanne in 1987. Jacques Dubochet will be the Director of the Laboratory of Ultrastructural Analysis and the Center for Electron Microscopy. He is currently an Honorary Professor of Biophysics at the University of Lausanne.


Source: University of Lausanne website

Photo credit details: UNIL