As many of you know, my family made a major life transition at the beginning of summer this year. I resigned from my position as a beamline scientist at GM/CA @ APS, and our family moved to Laurelville Mennonite Church Center where I started working as a host for the camp.

I have always said I had an excellent job – one I enjoyed and one which fit my education perfectly. Nevertheless, it was time for a change. And in the four months since we moved, I had never wished to be back at Argonne.

Nobel Prize medallionUntil last Wednesday when the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was announced.

The 2012 prize was awarded to Dr. Robert J. Lefkowitz and Dr. Brian K. Kobilka for their work with G-protein-coupled receptors (or GPCRs, for short). Basically, they’re studying how cells send messages.

Dr. Kobilka… set out to determine the three-dimensional structure of the receptor, which requires building a crystal out of the proteins and then deducing the structure by bouncing X-rays off it. Membrane proteins are notoriously difficult to pack into crystals. Last year, he and his research group were able to get an image of a receptor at the moment it was transferring a signal from the outside of the cell to a protein on the inside.

New York Times; October 10, 2012

The bouncing of X-rays mentioned by the Times was work done at GM/CA. While I was there, I had the privilege of hosting Brian and his research group on a few occasions. He also gave a seminar for our advisory board when our group was applying for continued funding from the NIH. In retrospect, that was a good move. GM/CA’s reputation will be improved by its association with Nobel Prize-winning work. (And its reputation was already pretty good, if I do say so myself.)

So… Congratulations to Brian! The science is wonderful, and it was always a pleasure to host you and your group.

And to my former colleagues at GM/CA, I was just a bit sad I wasn’t there to celebrate with you. I know it was a fun day!