Nobel awarded for fruit fly research


This Monday, the Nobel Prize for medicine was awarded to Drs. Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Robash and Michael Young in recognition of their research pertaining to circadian rhythms.

After years of research, the trio was able to identify a molecule (called a “period”) that is linked to our bodies’ energy levels. As the day goes on, period levels drop, giving us the energy to get through the day. As night approaches, period levels increase, prompting us to call it a day.

The period molecule functions in all animals and is responsible for their daily cycles of wake and rest. But the model organisms this year’s Nobel Prize recipients used was none other than the humble fruit fly.

Being a cost-and-time efficient test subject, fruit flies are also genetically very similar to humans. As such, they have been the stars in numerous important areas of research, five of which led to past Nobel prizes.

New York Times‘ open-ended contributor David Bilder did a thorough job covering not only what happened, but why it is relevant and what are its consequences. He explained in simple terms what the research was and how it applied the ordinary person. He also called attention to the danger that research like the one that is the topic is in, with looming budget cuts from a Congress that does not understand the importance it holds. This also served the purpose of being a call to action for fascinated readers.

He also offered a brief history of the research behind the fruit fly, as a supplement to his urging readers as to the importance of this type of research. Overall, he provided enlightened and complete coverage of the event.