Martin Rodbell

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Rodbell, Martin,

1925–1998, American biochemist, b. Baltimore, Ph.D. Univ. of Washington, 1954. He was a researcher (1956–1985) at the National Heart Institute in Bethesda, Md., before becoming scientific director (1985–94) of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Chapel Hill, N.C. Rodbell is credited with shedding light on cell communication by determining that the process requires discriminators to receive information from outside the cell, amplifiers to strengthen the signals and thereby initiate reactions within the cell, and transducers to provide a link between the two. Rodbell was co-winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with Alfred G. GilmanGilman, Alfred Goodman,
1941–2015, American biochemist, b. New Haven, Conn., M.D., Ph.D. Case Western Reserve Univ., 1969. He taught at the Univ. of Virginia (1971–1981) before becoming a professor at the Univ. of Texas Southwestern Medical School.
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, who identified the transducers as G-proteins, so-called because they react with guanosine triphosphate (GTP).
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Rodbell, Martin

(1925–  ) biochemist; born in Baltimore, Md. After earning his bachelor's degree in biology at Johns Hopkins University (1949) he took his Ph.D. at the University of Washington (1954). He was a research biochemist at the University of Illinois (1954–56) before going on to the National Institutes of Health, first with the National Heart Institute (1956–61), then with the National Institute of Arthritis, Metabolic and Digestive Diseases (1961–85). In 1985 he became the scientific director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Science, where he headed the laboratory of signal transduction. He retired in 1994, citing a lack of federal funds for his kind of basic research. He shared the 1994 Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology with Alfred G. Gilman for his work in discovering G proteins, substances that help transmit and modulate chemical signals in cells that control fundamental life processes; too many or too few G proteins can lead to diseases from alcoholism and cholera to diabetes and cancer.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.