The Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for the year 2017 was awarded jointly to three Americans for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the Circadian rhythms. The citation for the 9-million-kronor ($1.1 million) prize says the researchers isolated a gene that controls the normal daily biological rhythm. They “were able to peek inside our biological clock and elucidate its inner workings.” Circadian rhythms adapt the workings of the body to different phases of the day, influencing sleep, behavior, hormone levels, body temperature and metabolism.
The winners have raised “awareness of the importance of a proper sleep hygiene” said Juleen Zierath of the Nobel academy.
“The paradigm-shifting discoveries by the laureates established key mechanisms for the biological clock – our wellbeing is affected when there is a temporary mismatch between our external environment and this internal biological clock, for example when we travel across several time zones and experience jet lag – There are also indications that chronic misalignment between our lifestyle and the rhythm dictated by our inner timekeeper is associated with increased risk for various diseases.” Nobel Assembly said in its prize statement.