Hopkins' Peter Agre receives 2003 Nobel Prize in chemistry

l-prepared. Beginning in the mid-1980s, he and his colleagues, including technician Barbara Smith and then post-doc Gregory Preston, Ph.D., were searching for proteins that are part of the Rh-factor when they happened across an abundant and much smaller protein. The researchers pursued the unexpected protein visitor -- they isolated it and discovered that it was widely expressed -- and within a year had cloned its complementary DNA.

In dramatic experiments with frogs' eggs, the scientists next proved that the unknown protein was in fact biology's elusive cellular regulator of water transport.

Although Agre started his career in medicine, he gradually shifted to laboratory research so that he could investigate fundamental biological questions whose answers would have clinical relevance.

"I am certain that in the future, we will be able to capitalize on our understanding of aquaporins to benefit medicine, biotechnology and even agriculture," says Agre. "We still have much to learn, and the possibilities of where aquaporins will take us are unlimited. "

Born in Northfield, Minn., in 1949, Agre went to Theodore Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis, and in 1970 earned his bachelor's degree in chemistry from Augsburg College in that city. He received his medical doctorate from Johns Hopkins in 1974. In 1981, after post-graduate medical training and then a fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Agre returned to Hopkins, where he progressed through the ranks of the departments of medicine and cell biology. In 1993, he was recruited by then-department director Daniel Lane, Ph.D., to become a professor in the department of biological chemistry, a position he still holds.

Agre was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences in 2000 and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003. He holds two U.S. patents on the isolation, cloning and expression of aquaporins 1 and 5 and is the principal

Contact: Joanna Downer
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

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