Del Mar’s Ardem Patapoutian Wins Nobel Prize

Long-time Del Mar resident Ardem Patapoutian is a newly-minted Nobel laureate, sharing the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with UCSF’s David Julius for “their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch.”


The Prize was announced earlier today.


The Nobel Prize press release notes that Patapoutian “used pressure-sensitive cells to discover a novel class of sensors that respond to mechanical stimuli in the skin and internal organs.”

Ardem's son Luca watches the Nobel Prize press conference with his dad in this photograph by Nancy Hong, Ardem's wife and Luca's mom.

Together with Julius’s utilization of capsaicin, a pungent compound from chili peppers, to identify a sensor in the nerve endings of the skin that responds to heat, “these breakthrough discoveries launched intense research activities leading to a rapid increase in our understanding of how our nervous system senses heat, cold, and mechanical stimuli. The laureates identified critical missing links in our understanding of the complex interplay between our senses and the environment,” the Nobel Prize release notes.

Patapoutian used cultured mechanosensitive cells to identify an ion channel activated by mechanical force. After painstaking work, Piezo1 was identified. Based on its similarity to Piezo1, a second ion channel was found (Piezo2). Source: press release

For fascinating details about Patapoutian’s research, see the Nobel Prize release.