King Faisal International Prize (KFIP) recognizes excellence in 5 categories: Service to Islam, Islamic Studies, Arabic Language & Literature, Medicine, and Science, since 1979

Professor Gunter Blobel

Winner of the  
KFP Prize for  
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Topic: Biology


Nationality: United States of America

1996-Gunter-BlobelGünter Blobel was born in the Silesian town of Waltersdorf in pre-war Germany in 1936. He studied in Frankfurt and Munich and obtained his MD from the University of Tubingen, then moved to the United States where he obtained his Ph.D. in Oncology from the University of Wisconsin, Maddison in 1967. A naturalized U.S. citizen, Blobel has been working since the 1960’s at the Rockefeller University and is currently the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Professor of Cell Biology at the Rockefeller University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute in New York. He also serves on the board of directors for Nestle and the Board of Scientific Governors at the Scripps Institute and Co-Founder and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board for Chromocell Corporation.

Professor Blobel’s work profoundly impacted modern research in cell biology. His pioneering studies on protein sorting and targeting provided guiding hypotheses, experimental paradigms and key discoveries regardingour understanding of the transport of proteins across cell membranes, protein integration into these membranes and organelle and membrane biogenesis. His brilliant work resolved a fundamental problem in basic biology, namely how a cell can organize itself into various compartments while utilizing just one mechanism for protein biosynthesis. His work showed that newly synthesized proteins (averaging a billion per cell) have “signals” or “address tags” which direct them to their location within the cell. This groundbreaking discovery is helping to unlock the secrets of certain hereditary diseases that are caused by errors in these signals and transport mechanisms e.g., cystic fibrosis and hypercholestrolemia. It could also help in the development of more effective use of cells as “protein factories” for the production of important drugs. Blobel’s work also showed that cellular mechanisms are highly conserved among species and even among phyla and kingdoms of living organisms.

Professor Blobel’s achievements were recognized by numerous awards and honors. In addition to the King Faisal International Prize for Science in 1996 and the Nobel Prize in Medicine/ Physiology in 1999, he received many other prizes and medals such as the U.S. Steel Award and Richard Lounsbery Award of the U.S. National Academy of Science, the Gairdner Foundation International Award, the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University, the Albert Lasker Award in Biomedical Research and the Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Science and Technology. He was also awarded several Honorary Degrees, professorships and fellowships of major scientific Academies and societies across the United States and Europe, as well as a long list of invited lectures. He also served on the editorial boards of numerous journals including Science, The Journal of Cell Biology and Biochemistry. Professor Blobel is a passionate supporter for the rebuilding of Dresden’s monuments in Germany and has donated all of the King Faisal and Nobel prizes money for that purpose.

Dr. Gunter Blobel, is Professor at the Rockefeller University. Born in Germany in 1936 he was trained as a scientist and physician in his native country and then hi the United States. Author of more than two hundred original papers, member since 1983 of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, and winner of the prestigious Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award , he is a major pioneer in his field.

More about Awarding this Winner

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