University of Minnesota-Duluth graduate Brian Kobilka and another scientist won the 2012 Nobel Prize in chemistry Wednesday for research into protein receptors, studies that are important in the quest for better drugs, the Associated Press reports. He grew up in the Little Falls, Minn., area.
Kobilka's early experiences at UMD sparked his interest in research, MPR reported.
Five members of the committee called him at 2:30 a.m. with the news, but he missed their first call, the AP says. He picked up the second time and spoke with "five people with convincing Swedish accents," he told the AP. He said he'd put his half of the $1.2 million toward retirement or pass it to his kids.
Their work has been key to deciphering the communication system that the human body uses to send messages to cells — for example, speeding the heart in times of danger, the New York Times explains.
Kobilka, 57, graduated from UMD in 1977 with degrees in biology and chemistry, the AP says. He is a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine in California. There's a lot more info about his work at the Kobilka Lab website.