Richard Axel, M.D., a Columbia University Medical Center researcher with a nose for research -- about, well, the nose -- will share in the $1.3 million Nobel Prize for medicine.
Axel, 58, who completed his undergraduate and medical training at the New York City institution, and a former Columbia researcher, Linda Buck, now of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, were honored for their work in explaining how more than 1,000 different genes encode olfactory receptors in the nose to detect odors.
"I am deeply honored and very pleased," said Axel in a statement released by the university. "This honor represents the long efforts of the many faculty, students and fellows who have worked within our laboratories."
In addition, two physicians were among the 23 winners of the annual MacArthur Fellows "genius grants" from the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Researcher Vamsi Mootha, M.D., assistant professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School, and assistant professor of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, was honored for his work in using data from molecular biology, genetics and protein chemistry to find causes of and treatments for metabolic diseases.
Mootha, 33, received his medical degree from Harvard University Medical School and completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at the Brigham and Women's Hospital.
Filmmaker Gretchen Berland, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine at Yale University School of Medicine, was cited for her work combining an understanding of medicine and film production in documentaries about medical school internships and about the difficulties encountered by persons with physical disabilities.
Berland, 40, received her medical degree from Oregon Health and Science University and completed her internship and residency at Washington University Medical Center in St. Louis' Barnes Hospital Before medical school, Berland helped produce programs for the PBS television series NOVA and MacNeil/Lehrer Productions.
Mootha and Berland each will receive $500,000 personal grants, paid out in semiannual installments over five years.