The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet has today decided to awardthe 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm. We were thrilled to see the press release from Stockholm this week. The Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine has been awarded to the three US scientists who first identified and then carefully teased out the genetic and molecular mechanisms that control circadian rhythm in individual cells – including “the mechanism by which light can synchronize the clock.”

It’s worth reading the wonderfully clear (and illustrated) summary of their work in the press release

The prize also shines a spotlight on the explosive development of the field of circadian biology over the last three decades. The consequences for our understanding of health and wellbeing have been immense. And they’re still growing. For example, here’s a spring headline from The Scientist Magazine.

Circadian Rhythms Influence Treatment Effects: Across many diseases, taking medication at specific times of day may make the therapy more effective.

The Nobel Laureates began the transforming work by isolating the period gene in 1984. By coincidence, that’s the same year a group of researchers at the NIMH published the first paper describing Seasonal Affective Disorder as a syndrome and suggesting that light has an antidepressant effect. That’s the paper that first got traveling down the path that led us to SunSprite – and opened us up to the fundamental importance of circadian biology to our wellbeing.