Roger Y. Tsien

Roger Y. Tsien

Infobox Scientist
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name =Roger Y. Tsien 錢永健

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birth_date = birth date and age|1952|2|1
birth_place = New York City, United States
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citizenship = United States
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ethnicity = Chinese American
fields = Biochemistry
workplaces = UC Berkeley UC San Diego
alma_mater = Harvard University University of Cambridge
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awards = Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2008
Wolf Prize in Medicine 2004
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Roger Yonchien Tsien (zh-tsp|t=錢永健|s=钱永健|p=Qián Yǒngjiàn [cite web|url=| title=钱永健研水母发光盼助治癌| publisher="Lianhe Zaobao"| date=2008-10-03|accessdate=2008-10-04|language=Chinese.] ; born February 1, 1952) is an American biochemist and a professor at the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, San Diego. [ [ Roger Y. Tsien at the University of California, San Diego] . He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for the year 2008.] He was awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in chemistry "for his discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein (GFP) with two other chemists: Martin Chalfie of Columbia University and Osamu Shimomura of Marine Biological Laboratory. [ [ Website of the Nobel Prize committee.] ]

Family, birth and education

Tsien and his family are descendants of the royal family of the Kingdom of Wuyue. According to historic records, Tsien is the 34th-generational grandson of the King Qian Liu (Tsien Liu) [ [ 诺贝尔化学奖得主钱永健系吴越国王34世孙] ] .

Tsien had a number of top engineers in his extended family, including his father Hsue-Chu Tsien (simplified/ traditional Chinese: 钱学榘/ 錢學榘) who was a mechanical engineer and his mother's brothers who were engineering professors at MIT. Both of Tsien's parents came from Zhejiang Province, China. Tsien Hsue-shen (pinyin: Qian Xuesen; simplified/ traditional Chinese: 钱学森/ 錢學森), the co-founding father of JPL of Caltech and also known as the "Father of Chinese Rocketry" for developing the Chinese ballistic-missile program, is a cousin of Tsien's father [ [ Roger Tsien: Bringing color to cell biology] ] . Tsien's brother Richard Tsien is also a renowned scientist at Stanford. Tsien, who calls his own work molecular engineering, once said, "I'm doomed by heredity to do this kind of work". [Steele, D. (2004) Cells aglow. HHMI Bulletin, Summer 2004, 22–26]

Roger Y. Tsien was born in New York, in 1952. He grew up in Livingston, New Jersey and attended Livingston High School there. [Swayze, Bill. [ "Jersey teens call science a winner: Two finalists say just being in Westinghouse talent competition is prize enough"] , "The Star-Ledger", March 11, 1997. Accessed September 18, 2007. "Only one New Jersey teenager has ever captured top honors in the history of the competition. That was Roger Tsien in 1968. The then-16-year-old Livingston High School math-science whiz explored the way subatomic particles act as bridges between two dissimilar metal atoms in various complex molecules."]

Tsien suffered from asthma as a child, and as a result, he was often indoors. He spent hours conducting chemistry experiments in his basement laboratory. When he was 16, he won first prize in the nationwide Westinghouse talent search with a project investigating how metals bind to thiocyanate.Nicole Kresge, Robert D. Simoni, and Robert L. Hill. [ "The Chemistry of Fluorescent Indicators: the Work of Roger Y. Tsien"] , "Journal of Biological Chemistry", September 15, 2006. Accessed September 18, 2007. "At age 16, Tsien won first prize in the nationwide Westinghouse talent search with a project investigating how metals bind to thiocyanate."]

He attended Harvard University on a National Merit Scholarship and graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and physics in 1972. After completing his bachelor's degree, he joined the Physiological Laboratory at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England with the aid of a Marshall Scholarship. He received his Ph.D in physiology from the University of Cambridge in 1977. He was a Research Fellow at Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge from 1977 to 1981.

Academic career

After completing his PhD at Cambridge University, he was appointed to the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1982 to 1989. Since 1989 he has been working at the University of California, San Diego, as Professor of Pharmacology and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.


Tsien is renowned for revolutionizing the fields of cell biology and neurobiology by allowing scientists to peer inside living cells and watch the behavior of molecules in real time. He is well-known for developing colorful dyes, such as Fura-2, to track the movement of calcium within cells and has genetically modified organisms to produce the molecules that make jellyfish and corals glow, creating fluorescent colors in a dazzling variety of hues. These multicolored fluorescent proteins are used by scientists to track where and when certain genes are expressed in cells or in whole organisms.

In 2004, Tsien was awarded the Wolf Prize in Medicine for "for his seminal contribution to the design and biological application of novel fluorescent and photolabile molecules to analyze and perturb cell signal transduction." [ [ The Wolf Prize in Medicine] ] In 2006 he became a Foreign Fellow of the Royal Society in the UK. [ [ New Foreign members & Honorary Fellow 06.] The Royal Society. Accessed September 27, 2008]

In 2008, Tsien shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Osamu Shimomura and Martin Chalfie for "the green fluorescent protein: discovery, expression and development." [ [] ]

Awards and honors

Roger Y. Tsien has received several honors and awards in his life, including:

* W. Alden Spencer Award in Neurobiology, Columbia University (1991)
* Artois-Baillet-Latour Health Prize, Belgium (1995)
* Gairdner Foundation International Award, Canada (1995)
* Basic Research Prize, American Heart Association (1995)
* Elected to Institute of Medicine (1995)
* Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1998)
* Elected to the National Academy of Sciences (1998)
* Award for Innovation in High Throughput Screening, Society for Biomolecular Screening (1998)
* Herbert Sober Lectureship, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2000)
* Pearse Prize, Royal Microscopical Society (2000)
* ACS Award for Creative Invention, American Chemical Society (2002)
* Christian B. Anfinsen Award, Protein Society (2002)
* Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics, Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences (2002)
* Max Delbrück Medal, Max Delbrück Centrum für Molekulare Medizin, Berlin (2002)
* Wolf Prize in Medicine, Israel (2004)
* Fellow of the Royal Society, UK (2006)
* Nobel Prize in Chemistry, (2008)



* [ Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2008]

External links

* [ Tsien lab Website]
* [ Dr H.P. Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics 2002]
* [ The Wolf Prize in Medicine in 2004 (detail)]
* [ Research done by Roger Y. Tsien]
* [ The Chemistry of Fluorescent Indicators: the Work of Roger Y. Tsien]
* [ Aglow in the Dark: The Revolutionary Science of Biofluorescence - Popular science book describing history and discovery of GFP and includes a biography of Roger Tsien]

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