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Tsien, Roger Yonchien

Tsien, Roger Yonchien, 1952–2016, American biochemist, b. New York City, Ph.D. Cambridge, 1977. Tsien was a researcher at Cambridge (1977–81) and a professor at the Univ. of California, Berkeley (1982–89) before he became a professor at the Univ. of California, San Diego, and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 1989. Tsien shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Martin Chalfie and Osamu Shimomura for the discovery and development of green fluorescent protein (GFP), which is now used to identify and track specific proteins in living organisms. The gene the produced the protein was identified by Douglas Prasher, who also produced the clone used by Chalfie and Tsien. Tsien furthered the general understanding of how GFP fluoresces and improved how it fluoresced, and he extended the color palette beyond green, allowing researchers to assign various proteins and cells different colors so that several different biological processes can be followed simultaneously. As a result of his, his co-recipients', and Prasher's work, GFP has become an important tool in contemporary bioscience. Tsien also developed a fluorescent molecule that could be used to identified cancer tumors during surgery, and fluorescent indicators for calcium-, potassium-, and magnesium-ion activity in cells.

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