Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 49

Martin Rodbell - Research

national university institute biochemist

Biochemist, born in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. After earning his bachelor's degree in biology at Johns Hopkins University (1949) he took his PhD at the University of Washington (1954). He was a research biochemist at the University of Illinois (1954–6) before going on to the National Institutes of Health, first with the National Heart Institute (1956–61), then with the National Institute of Arthritis, Metabolic and Digestive Diseases (1961–85). In 1985 he became the scientific director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Science, where he headed the laboratory of signal transduction. He retired in 1994, citing a lack of federal funds for his kind of basic research. He shared the 1994 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Alfred G Gilman for his work in discovering G proteins, substances that help transmit and modulate chemical signals in cells that control fundamental life processes; too many or too few G proteins can lead to diseases from alcoholism and cholera to diabetes and cancer.

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