Brandeis faculty share Nobel Prize

Oct. 2, 2017

Dear Members of the Brandeis Community,

I am delighted to share the news that Brandeis professors Michael Rosbash and Jeffrey Hall today were awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their pioneering work on circadian rhythms.

The Nobel Committee recognized Michael, the Peter Gruber Endowed Chair in Neuroscience and professor of biology, and Jeff, professor emeritus of biology, for discovering the master “body clock” that controls body temperature, metabolism and many other biological processes in nearly all life.

Through research on the fruit fly, Michael and Jeff discovered the molecular mechanisms controlling circadian rhythms, which regulate the body over a 24-hour cycle. Their discovery holds great promise for eventually developing cures for a wide variety of diseases and sleep disorders.

Michael and Jeff, who both joined the Brandeis faculty in 1974, shared the award with Michael W. Young of The Rockefeller University in New York.

They are the first longtime Brandeis faculty members to win the Nobel. Saul Bellow won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976, a year before he served as the Hiatt Visiting Professor of English.

Mathematician John Nash, a Brandeis faculty member in the 1960s whose life was chronicled in the book and movie "A Beautiful Mind," won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1995. In 2003, Rod MacKinnon ’78, H’05, a member of Chris Miller's lab, became the only alumnus to receive the prestigious prize when he was honored for his work on the structure and operation of ion channels.

Michael and Jeff represent the essence of what makes Brandeis special and unique: a world-class curiosity, a desire to solve real-world challenges, and a commitment to creating a community of scientists that brings tenured professors together with students in a highly interactive and rigorous environment.

In addition to being a world-class researcher, professor and teacher, Michael is also a good citizen of Brandeis. Every year, he attends our open house for newly accepted students, and invites them into his lab, where they see for themselves the magic created when faculty engage with undergraduates, graduate students and postdocs, all in the same space and all working together. He’s also the number-one fan of our basketball and soccer teams.

On behalf of the Brandeis community, on and off campus, I want to extend my sincere congratulations to Michael and Jeff for this great achievement, and thank them for the contributions they have made to scientific discovery and our university.

This is truly a proud moment for Brandeis.

Best regards,

Ron Liebowitz

P.S. For more information about the award, including a complete story, the Nobel Prize news release and video of today’s news conference on campus with Michael, visit our website.