Peter Agre

Peter Agre

Infobox Scientist
name = Peter Agre
box_width = 26em

image_width = 200px
caption = Peter Agre (2nd from right) with 5 other US 2003 Nobel laureates with President G. W. Bush
birth_date = birth date and age|1949|1|30|df=yes
birth_place = Northfield, Minnesota, USA
nationality = United States
field = Chemistry
work_places =
alma_mater = Augsburg College
doctoral_advisor =
doctoral_students =
known_for = Aquaporins
prizes = Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Peter Agre (born January 30, 1949) is an American medical doctor, professor, and molecular biologist who was awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (which he shared with Roderick MacKinnon) for his discovery of aquaporins. [cite web | author=Karl Grandin, ed. | title=Peter Agre Biography | url= | work=Les Prix Nobel | publisher=The Nobel Foundation | date=2003 | accessdate=2008-07-29] Aquaporins are water-channel proteins that move water molecules through the cell membrane.


Born in Northfield, Minnesota, Agre received his B.A. from Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota and his M.D. in 1974 from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. He served as the Vice Chancellor for science and technology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC, where he guided the development of Duke's biomedical research. He has been selected to lead the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute (JHMRI). Agre became director at JHMRI and joined the faculty of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health on January 1, 2008.cite web|url=|title=Nobel Laureate Peter Agre to Lead Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute|date=2007-10-24|publisher=Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health|accessdate=2008-07-16] He was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences in 2000 and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003. He is also a founding member of Scientists and Engineers for America (SEA), and serves on its Board of Advisors.

Agre is an Eagle Scout and recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award (DESA). [cite web | last = Lupton | first = Neil | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 2005 | url = | title = Scouts-L Youth Group List| format = | work = | publisher = Listerv | accessdate = 2006-06-01] [cite web | last = Daniel | first = Douglass K. | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 2004 | url = | title = Scouter Peter Agre Places a Nobel Prize Alongside His Eagle Award (with photo of both) | format = | work = Scouting Magazine | publisher = Boy Scouts of America | accessdate = 2006-06-01] Both of his brothers are also physicians, and they and his son Peter are also Eagle Scouts.cite journal |author= | title=Distinguished Eagle Scout Award Profile - Dr. Peter Agre | journal=Eagletter|year=Winter 2006 |volume=Vol:32 |issue=No:3 |pages= pp: 8–9] Agre also enjoys cross-country skiing and has participated in the Vasaloppet ski race.

Agre is known among science students for his humanity and humility. [cite web | last = McGregor | first = Steve | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 2005 | url = | title = Nobel Laureate to Pitch Science as Fun| format = | work = | publisher = U. of Texas - Dallas | accessdate = 2006-06-01] Perhaps this originates from the grade of "D" Agre received in his first chemistry class, despite having a father who was a chemistry professor.P. Agre, (2008, May 2), lecture presented in Cellular Biology, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.] Or maybe from the fact his prize-winning research was originally an investigation of the molecular identity of the human blood Rh factor, and his initial discovery of aquaporins was purely serendipitous. He appeared on "The Colbert Report", discussing SEA, sound science in politics, and the decline of American knowledge of science, among other topics.

Political activism

Agre defended Thomas C. Butler, a plague researcher from Texas Tech University who voluntarily reported to the university safety office that 30 vials of plague bacteria were missing and had probably been autoclaved. Butler cooperated with FBI agents, who accused him of lying and arrested him. When Butler refused to plead guilty, federal prosecutors charged him with other charges, some of them unrelated, and he was convicted in a jury trial, lost his medical license, and served 2 years in prison.cite web|url=|title=In Support of Thomas C. Butler|date=2006-09-14|publisher=Federation of American Scientists|accessdate=2008-06-22] [ [ Plagued by Fear] Cleveland Plain Dealer series]

In addition to being a founding member of Scientists and Engineers for Change, Agre was one of 48 Nobel laureates who signed a letter endorsing Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry for president.

Agre criticized many policies of the Bush Administration. "The Bush administration has been a disaster for the environment. They're playing Russian roulette by not signing the Kyoto Accord. If we wait until there's unequivocal proof that this is the cause of global climate change, it will be too late," he said. [cite web|url=|title=Nobel winner says Bush is politicizing science|last=Scheck|first=Tom|date=2004-10-04|publisher=Minnesota Public Radio|accessdate=2008-06-22]

2008 Senate race

Agre would emphasize health care and environmental issues rather than the Iraq war. He said, "The issues that were important to us at the millennium are still important today." He also feels that the Senate could benefit from the perspective of a medical scientist. [cite web| title =Nobel Prize-winning scientist considers challenging Coleman| publisher =Minnesota Public radio| date =2007-05-18| url =| accessdate = 2007-06-04] Then on August 29 he announced that he will not enter the race for the Senate seat, calculating his chances of success with a late start to obtain the Democrat-Farmer-Labor Party endorsement against the huge personal cost and the termination of his federally-funded scientific research program and humanitarian service. An advocate for increased representation of science in government, he would not rule out the possibility of seeking public office in the future. [cite web| title =Nobel-winning scientist won't run for Senate| publisher =Minnesota Public Radio| date =2007-08-29| url =| accessdate =2007-08-30]

On 31 August, 2007, an editorial article written by Agre appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. In it, he formally withdrew himself from consideration for the US Senate race of 2008, and presented a historical review of select Minnesotans who contributed to human advancement, science and medicine. He excluded his own seminal contribution to the understanding of how water moves across our cells—something scientists had debated for a century.

Agre issued a call for a " century of science". In this editorial he highlighted the absolute paucity of scientists in Congress. He also contemplated the fact that both Germany and China have leaders who are trained research scientists (Germany: Angela Merkel, Ph.D., Physical Chemistry; China: Hu Jintao, Hydraulic Engineer).

There has never been a Nobel Science Prize winner in the U.S. Senate. Nor has there ever been a Nobel Prize winner elected Governor in the United States.


External links

* [ Johns Hopkins Media Story on his Nobel prize]
* [ Nobel citation]
* [ Nobel laureate: Gov't, science research clash post September 11] The Daily Cardinal
* [ Webpage at Duke]
* [ Coverage of October 21, 2005 speech by "The Chronicle", Duke's student newspaper]
* [ Video interview with Stephen Colbert] October 19 2006

NAME= Peter Agre
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, Distinguished Eagle Scout
DATE OF BIRTH= January 30, 1949
PLACE OF BIRTH= Northfield, Minnesota

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