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Schekman’s brother wins Nobel Prize in physiology

Posted: Wednesday, Oct 9th, 2013

Randy Schekman

WATSONVILLE — Talk about a family with chemistry.

Randy Schekman, whose brother Murry Schekman is assistant superintendent of secondary education for Pajaro Valley Unified School District, has won the 2013 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his role in figuring out how proteins are secreted and transported in human cells.

Randy Schekman is a professor of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley. He shares the prize with James E. Rothman of Yale University and Thomas C. Südhof of Stanford University.

  The 50-member Nobel Assembly lauded Rothman, Schekman and Südhof for their work, which it said helped shed light on “the exquisitely precise control system for the transport and delivery of cellular cargo. Disturbances in this system have deleterious effects and contribute to conditions such as neurological diseases, diabetes, and immunological disorders.”

  After doing well in a freshman course in his first semester, Schekman found a place in an honors class taught by Willard Libby, the inventor of carbon-14 dating and a Nobel Prize winner himself. Students in the course were required to work in a chemistry lab. So Schekman was placed in the lab of molecular biologist Michael Conrad.

“The first thing he had me do was read the then-first edition of a book by James Watson called 'Molecular Biology of the Gene,' which really opened my eyes," Schekman stated in a press release. “I remember reading it in my leisure time like it was the Bible.”

  That experience, and his real-world work in the lab, ended his aspirations to be a physician. From then on, he was hooked on basic science.

  Murry Schekman said his brother got his first microscope when he was in the eighth grade, and has been a “tremendous researcher” since then.

“He has belonged to the world for sometime,” he said. “He has always been a source of pride for my family. My son Jacob graduated from Watsonville High and has been a star in the sciences. He has always looked to his uncle as the best scientist in the world.”

Schekman added that his son hopes to go to Stockholm, Sweden when the Nobel awards are presented in December.

“I am just as proud as can be,” he said. “I look forward to bringing Dr. Randy Schekman to the Pajaro Valley to talk to our area students.”

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