Michael Young

Michael Young

2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Michael Warren Young is an American biologist and geneticist. He has dedicated over three decades to research studying genetically controlled patterns of sleep and wakefulness within Drosophila melanogaster. He was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Jeffrey C. Hall and Michael Rosbash "for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm".

Education and Work Experience

  • 1975, Ph.D. in genetics from University of Texas, Austin
  • 1975-1977, Postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University School of Medicine
  • 1978-1984, Assistant Professor at the Rockefeller University
  • 1984-1988, Associate Professor at the Rockefeller University
  • 1988-Present, Professor at the Rockefeller University 
Honors and Awards

    • 2007, Member of the National Academy of Sciences
    • 2009, Gruber Prize in Neuroscience
    • 2013, Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine
    • 2017, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Major Academic Achievements

He was especially interested in the so-called period gene, which a decade earlier had been proposed by other scientists to play a key role in the regulation of biological rhythms. In 1984 Young successfully isolated and sequenced the period gene, and further showed that introducing a fragment of DNA from the period gene locus into the genome of period-mutant flies restored circadian rhythm, thereby demonstrating the functional significance of the gene. In the 1990s, Young helped elucidate the molecular mechanism by which period controls the circadian clock. He discovered a second key gene, timeless, RNA levels of which oscillate on a 24-hour cycle. Young’s later research included the investigation of molecular changes in circadian rhythm that underlie sleep disorders in humans.